Well done. The US has bravely gone ahead slapped a ban on granting visas for ten people who comprise MPs from both sides of the political divide and some business leaders. The reason for this is that they have all been implicated (with evidence) for instigating the violence and ‘genocide’ following the December election. A further thirty are currently under investigation and may also be banned from entering the US. The ban extends to wives and offspring currently working or studying in America and Canada and the UK are considering following suit. The names of those on the list now barred from entering the US, has not been released but I’m sure it’s a case of: ‘you know who you are!!’.
It may be a little known fact that most politicians and wealthy Kenyans send children to Europe and the States for study and often these children wind up emigrating. Holding overseas bank accounts and owning properties outside Kenya is the norm. Immediately after the election results were announced and violence broke out, Caroline Mutoko a DJ on Easy FM was appealing to overseas diplomats to implement such a ban on travel: ‘Why are the poor people now dying and losing what little they have in the way of possessions, whilst these wealthy ‘leaders’ can just choose to leave the country whenever they like. Cancel their visas, make their children and families come back and watch Kenya burn with us.’
The local newspapers reported that junior MP Mugabe Were, who was shot outside his house in Nairobi last month, had kids and a former wife tucked away in Italy I read. There is a general rumour that all of the ODM party leaders sent family overseas in the run up to the election, in case of (or expecting) ensuing disputes or violence.
The ban is a perfect way to pressurise the Government and Opposition to find a solution, without hurting Kenya or poorer Kenyans. Overseas governments are hitting the leaders where it hurts. Today’s Standard newspaper reported: ‘Panic gripped MPs and Cabinet ministers after news that at least 10 personalities had been banned from entering the US.’ Such a ban on travel has been implemented by Britain before on politicians linked to financial scandals and corruption in Kenya (i.e. Goldenburg and Anglo Leasing).
The fact that some Kenyan MPs and big swinging business personalities will suffer from having their lifestyles curbed unless they soften their approach and make a deal to end the impasse, may just be the push that Kenya needs. In addition, the fact that high ranking politicians and leaders of society might realistically be brought to book for their responsibility for masterminding violent uprisings throughout the country, must surely be striking fear in the hearts of many. There is no doubt that the most powerful guilty parties will never have to face the law courts, but injecting some fear into those who feel they are above the law may filter down and translate into a speedier more amicable end to the political crisis.
The fact that the country is receiving so much international diplomatic pressure to resolve the current situation can, in part, be thanks to horrendous lessons learned in Rwanda where overseas powers failed to intervene. The Standard reported today that pressure is now mounting on politicians from the United States, the United Nations Security Council and the European Union: ‘Strike a deal to end crippling crisis or else we intervene.’
Meanwhile, the job of relocating more than quarter of a million displaced Kenyans has begun. What a horrendous ordeal this has all been for them and now they have no choice in starting fresh somewhere new, far away from their homes.