Former US envoy denounces Johnnie Carson on Kenya poll


 The woman who held the State Department’s top Africa post prior to Ambassador Johnnie Carson denounced on Wednesday his recent warning to Kenyan voters of possible “consequences” stemming from their choice of president in the March 4 election.

“I am troubled by Johnnie Carson’s statement that is essentially meddling in Kenya’s election,” declared Jendayi Frazer, who served as the Bush administration’s assistant secretary of state for African affairs from 2005 to 2009.

“It is very reckless and irresponsible, given that the election is very close, for us to try to intervene in Kenya’s election decision,” Ms Fraser added.

“We should not be threatening Kenyans about their choice by pointing to an ICC case that is not proven.”

“I think the ICC case against Uhuru Kenyatta is a weak one based on hearsay,” Ms Fraser added.

Speaking at a Washington think tank forum on Kenya’s election, Ms Frazer questioned the ICC’s legitimacy, saying the court is “a very manipulated institution, particularly by the West.”

Asked at the forum how she would respond to a Kenyatta victory if she were still a senior State Department official, Ms Frazer replied that the US government “should continue to work with the Kenyan government until the point somebody is tried and convicted.”

“I would be very pragmatic,” she said, noting that the United States is not a signatory to the treaty that established the International Criminal Court.

Ms Frazer added that the US has consistently maintained contact with Sudan President Omar al Bashir since his indictment by the ICC in 2008 on charges of war crimes.

“Even if the Kenyan people vote for Uhuru to be president, I’m positive the US administration will deal with him,” Ms Frazer said. She noted in this context that Secretary of State John Kerry had engaged in diplomacy with Sudan’s leadership as an emissary of President Obama.

The former assistant secretary of state expressed optimism that widespread violence will be avoided in the coming election.

Ms Frazer, who now serves as distinguished service professor at Carnegie Mellon University in the US, cited Kenya’s new Constitution, the country’s more independent judiciary and the comparative credibility of its new elections commission as key factors that will help produce a peaceful outcome.

In addition, Kenya’s strong civil society “is not going to allow politicians to mobilise violence” in 2013, she said.

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