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The candidates, including Odinga, all agreed that there should be one candidate; the problem was that they all said, “It should be me.” Five years ago, however, a deal was struck among the opposition parties. Raila Odinga stood back, Mwai Kibaki went forward as a rainbow coalition candidate and the KANU presidential candidate was defeated. Raila Odinga entered Kibaki’s rainbow coalition cabinet, but did not stay long. He fell out with President Kibaki
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over the President’s constitutional reform programme fairly soon—two years, I think—after the election. He left the Government and formed an opposition party, now known as the Orange Democratic Movement.

I am certain that what Kenya needs is not a political fix between Kibaki and Odinga, or between Mwai Kibaki and the minority parties in Parliament. Kibaki has already done a deal with Kalonzo Musyoka, who broke from Raila Odinga’s ODM last year to form the ODM-Kenya. Mr. Musyoka has been rewarded with the vice-presidency, which delivers 16 parliamentary votes—the 16 members of Mr. Musyoka’s party who were elected to Parliament—to the Government coalition. What Kenya needs is not a fix between leaders. What Kenya needs is the rule of law and democracy. I believe firmly that it needs fresh elections—at least, fresh presidential elections—this year. We know that such elections cannot happen immediately, because so many people have been driven from their homes and would be unable to vote. A period of calm is needed to enable people to return home, but the elections need to take place this year, not in two, three, four or five years’ time.

What can our Government do? First, we should advocate good policies, but recognise our limitations. We can advocate such policies, but we cannot enforce them. Secondly, we should press for and provide technical assistance for a forensic investigation of the ballot, if such an investigation is possible. In that way, we and the world would know whether the election was stolen and what went wrong, so that lessons could be learned for the future. That was proposed at yesterday’s meeting in Parliament by Gladwell Otieno, who is an extremely well respected Kenyan anti-corruption and human rights campaigner and founder of Transparency International-Kenya. She flew in yesterday to speak to our group on behalf of a coalition of voluntary bodies, Kenyans for Peace with Truth and Justice.

Our Government should continue to refrain from recognising the election as free and fair and from recognising Mr. Kibaki’s election as President. We should discuss with other African countries whether Kenya, in the present circumstances, should be suspended from the Commonwealth. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Loughborough (Mr. Reed) that we should not cut aid—certainly not humanitarian aid. I have seen the work that DFID money funds for people with HIV/AIDS in Kisumu and Kibera—one of the worst slums in Nairobi—and that work should not stop. However, DFID should do what we did in Ethiopia after that country’s President jailed some opposition MPs and politicians, which is reroute the money through channels other than the Government of Kenya.

We should work to strengthen the democratic institutions in Kenya, especially the electoral commission. The present commission must stand down—it is wholly discredited. The chairman of the commission who announced that Mr. Kibaki had been elected President said later that he did so under duress; the commission cannot be allowed to remain as it is. Through the mediation process, we need to broker talks on how members of the electoral commission in future will be elected or appointed on the basis of all-party support.

We also need to work to strengthen the judiciary and to work with the Kenyan Parliament. Parliament is especially important because Mr. Kibaki’s party, the Party of National Unity, has only 43 seats. Mr. Odinga’s
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ODM party has 105, but not an overall majority. Although the presidential election—whatever the true outcome—was extremely close, the parliamentary elections were not. The small parties in the Parliament hold the balance of power, which provides an opportunity for negotiation and compromise between the parties. We should do whatever we can to foster that process.

We must recognise that Kenyan parties are not the same as UK parties. They are, if I may say so, less tribal than British parties. They are much more fluid: members of parties and Members of Parliament move from party to party, almost in pursuit of the best offer from a party leader. To be blunt, people are swayed by offers of office or of money. Parliament voted against MPs being able to switch parties last year, but it has not implemented that rule. As I mentioned, President Kibaki’s decision to make Mr. Musyoka Vice-President delivered an additional 16 parliamentary votes to his parliamentary camp. We have to enter into dialogue with various parliamentary parties in Kenya to discuss the basis on which they can work together and whether a compromise between the parties in Parliament, at least, is possible.

Many of Kenya’s MPs are new. That was bound to happen, given the ruling party’s loss of so many seats. Many of them have little experience of how Parliament works and what it can do to hold the Executive to account. I should declare an interest as chair of the Westminster Foundation for Democracy. I know that one of our trustees, Myles Wickstead, who was the secretary of the Commission for Africa set up by our former Prime Minister, Tony Blair, and who was formerly our ambassador in Ethiopia, has spoken to our high commissioner in Kenya, Adam Wood, to explore whether the Westminster Foundation for Democracy can help. The foundation has a history of work with political parties and Parliaments in east Africa. If we can help, I hope that the Foreign Office will get in touch with the foundation. We would be only too pleased to do what we can to help.

1.50 pm

Jo Swinson (East Dunbartonshire) (LD): Some people have criticised the Leader of the House for her decisions on subjects for topical debate, but today her choice cannot be faulted. It is very welcome that the House has this opportunity to debate the crisis in Kenya. As we speak, thousands of Kenyans are protesting on the streets of Nairobi, in Kisumu and throughout the country. I am particularly delighted to follow the hon. Member for City of York (Hugh Bayley), who made an eloquent and powerful contribution and who has much experience in international development.

Let us be clear: the humanitarian and political crisis in Kenya has arisen because on 27 December, Mwai Kibaki stole the elections from the people of Kenya. More than 600 Kenyans have lost their lives and 250,000 have fled their homes as a direct result of an election that betrayed democracy and involved corruption at the highest levels, in the heart of the electoral commission of Kenya. The evidence is stark. In one constituency, recorded turnout was 115 per cent. In Molo, western Kenya, official results gave Kibaki 35,000 more votes than the total tallied by observers at the count. Delays in announcing results from Kibaki’s
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stronghold allowed time to let officials know how many extra votes to add to the tally. There were no outside observers at the final stage of the ballot count. It is quite clear that the result was manipulated behind closed doors at the electoral commission.

Hilary Armstrong: My understanding from the Commonwealth observer is that if a tally in the presidential election was more than 100 per cent. by the time it got from the constituency to Nairobi, it was discounted.

Jo Swinson: I welcome the right hon. Lady’s intervention. There is a huge amount of anecdotal evidence from media reports. One television channel showed an official leaving the count saying, “I can’t do this anymore, because of what I am being asked to do.” We have been told what the chair of the electoral commission said about making the announcement of results under duress. We need forensic examination, as far as is possible, to determine the scale of the deception, but I do not think it is in doubt that the actual election result was not the one declared.

We have known for some time that Mr. Kibaki has failed to tackle corruption as he pledged to do when he took power in 2002. That is just one in a long line of broken promises, such as the pledge to create the new constitution that Kenya so badly needs. Most seriously, more than a year ago Kibaki stacked the electoral commission with his own appointments and failed to consult Opposition parties. Surely that should have been the canary in the mine—a clear warning of what was to come. The crisis was predictable; in fact, it was predicted. I refer to the comments of my noble Friend Lord Steel of Aikwood in the other place on 31 January 2007:

The situation in Kenya shows how true that was. The Minister, Lord Triesman, responded in part by calling the lack of consultation

On 7 January this year, my hon. Friend the Member for Kingston and Surbiton (Mr. Davey) asked the Foreign Secretary what representations had been made to the Kenyan Government, but received no answer. I ask the Minister again now: what exactly did the Government do? What representations were made, and what actions did they take, at what levels, when Kibaki’s rigging of the electoral commission pointed to forthcoming electoral chaos in Kenya?

I welcome the Government’s clear statement that they do not recognise Kibaki as the Kenyan President. We must ensure that there is no doubt, either in Britain or the international community, that the December elections are not seen as legitimate. The international community must be united in its rejection of Kibaki as Kenyan President.

I understand that the UK Government have already put in place travel bans against certain members of the Kibaki Government. There is another lever that we can use: surely we could wield influence through the extension of such bans to all those who are blocking
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the political process, including, if necessary, Kibaki himself. I should be interested to know whether the Minister has considered that, and whether we have considered whether there are other members of the Government and the political class in Kenya to whom travel bans could be extended. We should work closely with our EU neighbours to widen the impact of such personal sanctions.

Of course, when applying sanctions, we have to be careful that they are targeted against corrupt members of the Government, and those blocking the democratic process. They should not harm poor Kenyans, who are already victims in the crisis. The free education and HIV health programmes must be safeguarded.

Elections are due in Angola, Malawi and Ghana in the next 18 months. There is a great danger that failing to deal rigorously with electoral corruption in Kenya will make similar problems more likely in those other African states. The political solution to the crisis in Kenya must involve fresh presidential elections.

Mr. Geoffrey Clifton-Brown (Cotswold) (Con): The hon. Lady is absolutely right: the only lasting solution to the crisis is fresh elections and, as the hon. Member for City of York (Hugh Bayley) says, they should be held relatively soon. Does she not agree that both the parties concerned should use this interim period to reach a joint agreement on the composition of the electoral commission of Kenya, so that whoever wins the election will buy into the commission’s processes, and so that the elections can be seen as free and fair?

Jo Swinson: I welcome that intervention. The hon. Gentleman is right: it will, of course, be key that everybody involved in the Kenyan political process buys into the electoral commission processes, and the body must be seen to be independent.

The idea of a Government of national unity is unlikely to work. Let us remember that Kibaki reneged on a memorandum of understanding between him and Raila Odinga back in 2002, so there is unlikely to be sufficient trust. The only realistic solution is for a transitional power-sharing Government to take office, and a timetable for new elections to be drawn up. It will take time for Kenyans who have been displaced to be resettled and reregistered to vote, and a lot of rebuilding work will have to be done across the discredited branches of government. The restoration of the electoral commission’s independence is a vital step, as the hon. Member for Cotswold (Mr. Clifton-Brown) says.

The year 2002 brought a new sense of optimism to Kenya. That year’s elections deserved the praise that they received for being the most free and fair in Kenyan history. Last December, voters again approached the polls with optimism, and recorded turnout was 70 per cent. However, the situation has quickly turned into a seminal crisis. Whether the violence is blamed on tribal tensions, a conflict between the haves and have-nots, or an intergenerational clash, we should not lose sight of the fact that the direct cause of the bloodshed was the manipulation of the presidential election result.

As we enter the second day of fresh protests in Kenya, the potential for further large-scale loss of life is very real. Pressure must be brought to bear on Kibaki
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so that Kenya can have a transitional Government and fresh elections. Failing to act now will push Kenya closer to the brink.

1.58 pm

Ms Sally Keeble (Northampton, North) (Lab): I am extremely pleased that we now have topical debates, and particularly pleased that today’s is on Kenya, a country with which I have had involvement over the past few years. Like other hon. Members, I want to consider the political and humanitarian dimensions of the issue.

Last summer, I was fortunate enough to go to Kenya with the Westminster Foundation for Democracy, and spent some time speaking to Raila Odinga. I met Kalonzo Musyoka on the day when he moved from his previous party to the Labour party of Kenya. I also met the chair of what was then the party of Mwai Kibaki, the President. That gives some idea of all the changing of parties that goes on. Having spoken to a number of extremely articulate and able politicians, one thing was overwhelmingly clear: that the recent elections would present people in Kenya with a stark choice.

They would be choosing between stability, economic growth and Kibaki’s track record of universal primary education, albeit with criticism of the corruption, his Government’s centralism and lack of vitality, and change under Raila Odinga, which would provide redistribution and decentralisation, and tackle the poverty agenda in Kenya, with the downside that the party was an unknown quantity and untested in government.

I went back just before Christmas and it was clear that the ODM was way ahead, but there was a fervour of debate and people were looking at the big choice that faced Kenya. The hon. Member for East Dunbartonshire (Jo Swinson) made some important points, but I disagree with some of her comments. It was for the Kenyans to choose, not for us to say, and it certainly was not for any political party to steal the elections, which is what has happened. It is just not clear who stole what.

In the parliamentary elections, as my hon. Friend the Member for City of York (Hugh Bayley) said, there was clearly an overwhelming majority in favour of the ODM. When I visited Kenya last year I could see that people were fed up with politics as they had been, and they did not like politicians. That was reflected in the number of Ministers who lost their seats. Younger people wanted a greater say, and people wanted sweeping changes. The presidential election was clearly going to be closer, and that is where the conflict lies. As long as the results are disputed and people in Kenya believe that the election was stolen, there will be no resolution of the other problems that have arisen. It is therefore essential that the political situation be resolved.

On the humanitarian front, there has been much talk about the various tribes of Kenya. I have quite a large number of Kenyans in my constituency and they had a prayer meeting at the weekend. One of them said that there were only two tribes in Kenya—the haves and the have-nots. The haves are a small group who hold power. The have-nots are a vast mass of people. That is the real political divide in Kenya.

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I run a little charity, which some hon. Members support. It works with organisations in the slums of Kenya, in particular in conjunction with the Kenya Network of Women with AIDS. It works in Kibera, Mathare and the other slums in Nairobi. I visited the project before Christmas when, among other things, we had the kids from the slums together for a great big Christmas party. It is sobering to think that most of those children, who have already been orphaned by HIV/AIDS, have now lost not only their parents but their homes and their few possessions. Even worse, the agencies that were feeding them cannot operate, so they have not had food for quite a while.

The Kenya Network of Women with AIDS had to shut down all its feeding programmes because of the violence. World Vision in Kenya has also reported appalling consequences for its programmes, which were supporting some of the poorest people in Nairobi and outside. As that work cannot go on, the UN has to run feeding programmes in the slums. Kibera is not a slum on the fringes of the city; it is right in the middle of Nairobi. One drives past big affluent houses, and just round the corner, or just down the street, one finds oneself in the biggest slum in Africa—in such a rich city. It is an appalling thought that the UN has to run feeding programmes in such a place.

Colleagues have spoken about the importance of Kenya, and they are right. It is a centre for east Africa. I understand that at one point the blockades on the roads were stopping fuel reaching Uganda, and that pressures were building up in Uganda because of fuel shortages and problems with other strategic supplies. Much of the humanitarian work that goes on in southern Sudan and Somalia, and some of the security work there, is based in Nairobi. That is affected by anything that damages the ability of people in Kenya to move about and carry out their business properly.

Others have spoken about Kenya’s having been a beacon for multi-party democracy. It is therefore important that we deal with the political crisis and the humanitarian fallout from that. Although it is for Kenyans to decide, there are steps that we in the UK can take, given our historic relationship and our close economic ties with Kenya, to make sure that things keep moving there. The first is to keep on Kenya’s case, and especially on Mwai Kibaki’s case.

I suspect that some are hoping that after the world has made a fuss and a compromise deal is reached, which people in Kenya are quite capable of achieving, the world will accept that and life will go on, while the underlying question of what happened in the elections is never resolved. It is important that this debate is taking place, and I hope that the scrutiny and the pressure from the Government will continue. A recount is probably not possible because of the tampering with the ballot papers, but there should be an investigation of what happened in the elections. In due course there must be fresh elections. I hope that they will take place in an orderly fashion, and that all the lessons will be learned about how the monitoring is carried out, how the ballot boxes and ballot papers are moved and so on, to avoid a rerun of the disaster.

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