Investigations

Did The U.N. Interfere With Kenyan Election, Daring Inner City Press Investigations Digs Deeper

NASA NTC agents Noah akala and Mombasa Governor Joho consults with Dr. Akombe at Bomas

The U.N. Sec Gen had already praised the IEBC for conducting a free and fair elections going further to congratulate president elect, Uhuru for the win. In a statement, U.N. advised aggrieved parties to seek legal redress. NASA leader Raila Odinga who has now petitioned the IEBC declaration, suggested for the U.N. to arbitrate and audit the election results but the body instantly rejected his plea. Despite poll violence and electoral discrepancies coming out of the election, the U.N. alongside other international bodies who hurriedly endorsed the electoral process have gone on a deafening silent. Matthew Russel, an investigative journalist based on the U.N. HQ, New York, has been trailing the U.N. levels of involvement in the Kenya’s election asking the most uncomfortable elections.

UNITED NATIONS, August 21 – After the murder of Kenyan electoral official Chris Msando, Inner City Press on August 1 put the question at the UN to Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ spokesman Stephane Dujarric, UN transcript here and below. After Kenya moved to de-register a second human rights group, Inner City Press asked lead UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric on August 15, UN transcript here and below. Inner City Press has learned, and exclusively reports, that Kenya(tta) foreign ministry official Monica Juma has been offered a top job in Jeffrey Feltman’s UN Department of Political Affairs, to replace Taye-Brook Zerihoun. She was granted six months to “sit” on the job, to help Kenya(tta), as one source put it to Inner City Press. By contrast, former UN Special Rapporteur Maina Kiai was stopped at Nairobi’s airport and questioned about his right to fly out of the country.

The UN had said nothing (just as it did not even raise Cameroon’s detention of former UN legal adviser Felix Agbor Balla when meeting this month with long-time president Paul Biya’s delegation.) So on August 21, Inner City Press asked UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric, UN transcript here:

Inner City Press: on Kenya and the election, it seems like more and more questions are being raised about the the validity of the results that were announced. And there’ve been at least two UN things I wanted to ask you about. One is that the former Special Rapporteur, Maina Kiai, was detained at the airport when he sought to leave the country, and also Roselyn Akombe, as, as you know… I guess I wanted to… there’s been a lot of coverage there about when does she intend… she took a leave of absence to work on that commission. She left the country saying she was coming to New York for meetings. Did she meet anyone in the UN? When’s her expected time to return to UN service…

Spokesman: We’ve given you some updates on her status in January, if I if I recall. I’m not aware of any, of any updates, and I’m not aware of any meetings she may, she may have had here.

Inner City Press: And does the UN have, I guess… you know, it’s a Special Rapporteur, which I understand is an independent UN position, but what do you say about a…

Spokesman: I’ll check.

Inner City Press: …human rights defender being detained?

Spokesman: I’ll check on that situation.

Five hours later, nothing. Now the dismissive or vague position of today’s UN to press freedom is further exemplified by silence on the reported detention at gunpoint of blogger Robert Alai, here. The UN’s resident coordinator in Kenya has, for example, blocked the critical Press on Twitter; UN Spokesman Farhan Haq on August 19 had no specific comment when Inner City Press asked about detentions by Morocco of citizen journalists reporting on the crackdown in the Rif. (Lead UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric evicted Inner City Press and still restricts it, for its coverage in the Press Briefing Room of the UN bribery case against now-conficted Ng Lap Seng.) The UN is losing its way, including in Kenya. On August 18, Inner City Press asked UN Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq, UN transcript here:

Inner City Press: In Kenya, now the EU has called for the making public of the local results. There seems to be more and more question about the way they were conveyed, and a lot of international actors that don’t have as big a presence in Nairobi as the UN does have called for this type of data to be produced. I wanted to know what is the UN’s… he’s already… the Secretary-General’s already, you know, congratulated and apparently, called the results final, President Kenyatta, but what is the UN’s… does the UN join these calls for the release of those data, or what’s their position?

Deputy Spokesman: Well, our position has been that any complaints need to be worked out through the established system. Apparently, there are signs from the various parties that that is what’s going on and we will monitor that process as it continues.

Inner City Press: And I wanted to ask. I became aware yesterday that… that… and I would like you to confirm that the DPA position currently held by Tayé-Brook Zerihoun has been offered to a Monica Juma, who is a Kenyan Government official in the Foreign Ministry, and I would like to know… apparently, the position was given to her, and she was given six months to take it or not so that this process would take place.

What is the, what is the status of that second highest position in DPA currently, and why wasn’t it advertised?

Deputy Spokesman: Well, at this, at this point, as you know, Mr. Zerihoun has the post. When there’s another appointment to be made, we’ll announce that, but we have not made another announcement.

Inner City Press: But why wouldn’t a position of that height be, be advertised for people to apply?

Deputy Spokesman: We have processes that, that apply to all of the various high positions. I believe we have competitive processes, including interview processes, for, for all of the senior position, and we’ll make the announcement when it happens. I wouldn’t have any confirmation of how this process was carried about, but, and at this stage, like I said, I don’t have an announcement for Mr. Zerihoun, even for any departure. Once we have that announcement, we’ll, we’ll make that.

On August 17, amid lack of transparency about the detention and itinerary of a UN official on leave, Inner City Press asked UN Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq, UN transcript here:

Inner City Press: as you may know in Kenya, the former or future DPA (Department of Political Affairs) employee Roselyn Akombe, who has given a leave of absence to work on the Electoral Commission there, attempted to leave the country and was detained at the airport. It’s now said that she’s come to New York for meetings. So, I wanted to know two things. Number one, is she having any meeting with the UN since you said she’s coming to New York on official business? Number two, when she was given this leave of absence — it’s become quite controversial. As you know, the commission is getting sued for being not less than impartial — did the Ethics Office look at this granting of a leave of absence? What’s her current status with the UN? And, also, it’s come up because she appealed to the US embassy there. For purposes of UN, is she from Kenya or from the United States?

Deputy Spokesman: I wouldn’t have any comment on her nationality. I don’t comment on the nationality of staff members. But… [inaudible]

Question: Given that the person was detained and… okay.

Deputy Spokesman: But I am aware that she was on a leave of absence. At some point, I believe, fairly soon, it will be expiring and then she will return to her duties in the Department of Political Affairs.

Question: So she has no contacts in the UN during this week? Because it’s a big story in Kenya that she’s come to New York and she says she coming to New York for work related to the election. So, I guess my question to you is, does this New York visit have any UN connection?

Deputy Spokesman: I wouldn’t comment on her work until she’s rejoined the United Nations. She’s not… at the time that she’s on leave, she is a separate individual. Ms. Akombe, at some point, will re-join the Department of Political Affairs, and then she’ll be a UN staffer.

In joining the IEBC, Dr. Akombe took a reported 70 percent pay cut. “She has been granted special leave without pay to serve in the Kenyan Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission. She’ll provide technical electoral support to the Commission in preparation for the 2017 elections and support efforts to prevent post‑electoral violence in Kenya. The activity was approved in accordance with staff regulations… the proper staff regulations and staff rules,” said Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General, in a January 23 briefing, shortly after she was sworn in.

 

Inner City Press: there’ve now been more than one NGO shut down at this period of time in which they could be filing petitions. And there’s many more… there are doubts whether… whether substantive or not, about how the results were transmitted. So, beyond this Kenya National Human Rights Commission, something called Africog [phonetic] has also been suddenly deregistered by the… by the authorities. That would be the winning candidate or the said to be winning candidate. So, I just wanted to know, what… the country team there, what do they think of the closing down of the NGOs in the country during…

Spokesman: I don’t have enough information on these particular NGOs. You can contact the country team directly. I know you’re been in contact with them. What is clear for us is that there are constitutional means that need to be respected as part of the election for any appeals and, obviously, echo the High Commissioner’s call for restraint and for peaceful… for supporting the right of people to demonstrate peacefully but a call for calm and restraint.

On August 14, Inner City Press asked Dujarric’s deputy Farhan Haq, video here, UN transcript here:

Inner City Press: there were these two different statements, one about provisional results, then final results, but, in the country, one, how many people does the UN believe have been killed in post-election violence? What’s the UN’s reaction to Raila Odinga asking for the UN to play some role in looking into fraud he says he’s going to announce tomorrow, Tuesday? And there’s a group called the Kenya Human Rights Commission, which has been deregistered just before filing a petition concerning the election. Does the UN believe that the current legal structures, especially if you have petitioners deregistered moments before filing, is a credible one? What does the UN, given its presence in Nairobi, think about the deaths and this deregistration?

Deputy Spokesman: Obviously, we’re concerned about any violence. As I just mentioned, what we’ve been doing, including through the Secretary-General, is calling on all political leaders to send clear messages to their supporters urging them to refrain from violence, and that’s a key part of this process. You’re aware of our concerns in other previous elections, presidential elections in Kenya, and those concerns continue to apply. Regarding Mr. Odinga’s request, obviously, we’ll wait to see what he has to say tomorrow and monitor that, but I would point out, as I just said, that the Secretary-General called on political leaders disputing the election results to address election-related disputes through the relevant constitutionally mandated institutions, and that is where we stand on that.

On August 7, Inner City Press asked Dujarric about the deportation of two of Raila Odinga’s consultants, American John Phillips, chief executive of political consultancy Aristotle, and Canadian Andreas Katsouris. Dujarric replied with generalities; Inner City Press asked, so the deportations are bad? There was no clear answer. Now this: on August 10 Inner City Press asked Dujarric, UN transcript here:

Inner City Press: In Kenya, Raila Odinga, the candidate, has said that there’s been hacking of the system, but the President of Burundi, Pierre Nkurunziza, has offered his congratulations. What’s the UN’s view? One, do they think that the rule-of-law process to review is being conducted, is that process over?

Spokesman: No, I, as far as I know, the the official election results have yet to be announced. We’re, obviously, watching the situation unfold. We’re watching it closely. As you know, the UN did not observe, did not have a role in observing the elections. I think what’s important is that all stakeholders, all people in Kenya, allow the process to follow its course and, if they have any grievances, that they channel those through legal and peaceful means. We reiterate the call of the Secretary-General for maintaining calm and ensuring strict respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, especially in this time while people await, and understandably await eagerly the official results. From the August 1 transcript:

Inner City Press: in the run-up to the elections in Kenya, the head of the electronic voting, Chris Msando, has been murdered and I wanted to know, what is the UN… various countries have expressed concern, offered to send investigators, has the resident coordinator or anyone in the UN system, what do they think of this murder?

Spokesman: Obviously, I think it’s, the fact that a member of the electoral commission was murdered, in what appears to be such a gruesome way, is shocking and can only be condemned. We hope that the perpetrators are found and brought to justice. I think Kenya is entering a very, obviously a very delicate period with the upcoming elections, and we would not want to see any increase or violence or disturbance.

Inner City Press: Can you say what the UN’s role, does it have any role? I know that there was somebody who used to work at DPA [Department of Political Affairs] who is now working on the elections as a Kenyan national, but is there a UN role?

Spokesman: I can check. I’m not aware of any role, but I’m happy to check.

Twenty-three hours later, nothing. But UN Department of Public Information’s Nairobi “UNIC” has responded online that the UN did speak out, attaching a statement referring to the “sudden demise” of Msango. He was tortured and murdered. That is NOT speaking out, and is consistent with UN Resident Coordinator Siddharth Chatterjee’s strikingly pro-government blatherings in the country, of the kind the many say got the Resident Coordinator in Myanmar removed from the job – or “promoted,” in UN-speak. Chatterjee was named Resident Correspondent by his father in law Ban, without recusal. On August 2, with Dujarric not having provided any answer on the UN’s electoral role, Inner City Press asked him again, UN transcript here:

Inner City Press: the UN statement, apparently the most recent one, still calls it a sudden demise and given that the autopsy has shown that he was both tortured and murdered and the EU has called for an investigation, is the UN wanting there to be an investigation?

Spokesman: Of course, of course, there should be an investigation. I think anyone who is found murdered deserves to have an investigation into the killings. I think in this particular instance, given the political climate in Kenya and given the upcoming elections, it’s obviously extremely important that following what has clearly been the murder of a senior member of the electoral commission, that that be investigated and the perpetrators be brought to justice.

Inner City Press: When they called it a sudden demise, they didn’t yet know it was a murder?

Spokesman: Listen, I think, you’re, as I said, the UNIC is obviously in contact with you. You are free to call.

Inner City Press: They tweeted.

Spokesman: No, you know their numbers are public. You can go and ask them directly. You don’t need me to be sandwiched between you and them. And I did, I think you had asked about the UN’s role, and… and UNDP is, through an electoral cycle, based 2015-2018 project called Supporting Electoral Processes in Kenya, supporting various Kenyan institutions to prepare for credible and peaceful general elections in August. The project focuses on strengthening the institutional and legal framework for the electoral process; increasing the participation of voters, parties, and candidates in the electoral process with an emphasis on women, youth and people living with disabilities; promoting efficient and transparent and peaceful elections; and strengthening electoral justice. The UN has also engaged the importance of peaceful and credible elections, both for the country and the region, by working consultation with regional organizations and the wider international community.

Back on February 17 as the UN discussed enforced disappearances with restricting the Press’ ability to cover them, Inner City Press asked UN deputy spokesman Farhan Haq why the UN’s Resident Coordinator in Kenya Siddharth Chatterjee, Ban Ki-moon’s son in law promoted by him without recusal, was silent in at least two cases.

Siddharth Chatterjee has two days later reached out to seek an agreement, in advance, to publish whatever he chooses to send in. Inner City Press, in turn, requested, as it did in person in New York in September, an on camera interview which it would publish live and in its entirety.

Along with the above, and what Chatterjee was doing recently in Addis Ababa lobbying in connection with the race for top African Union post, Inner City Press has conveyed in advance questions ranging from whether or not Chatterjee previously got an article about one of his promotions taken off the Internet after making an illegal offer of a job in his father in law’s Secretariat to his role in the Jaffna Hospital Massacre and other specific war crimes in Sri Lanka. We hope to get answers to these questions and to publish them. Watch this site.

From the UN’s February 17 transcript:

Inner City Press: it’s the tenth anniversary of this Convention on enforced disappearances. So, I’d asked you, I think, on Monday about this… these case of two South Sudanese who have disappeared in Kenya. You said you’re aware of the reports so, two things. One, I’m wondering, who in the UN system is engaging with the Kenyan Government or the South Sudan Government about that? Why hasn’t the Resident Coordinator in Kenya? I mean the Nigeria one is speaking about when Boko Haram will be done. Has anything been said by the UN in-country about these people that have been disappeared presumably by the Government and returned to South Sudan?

Deputy Spokesman: Well, first of all, I believe that there are Special Rapporteurs dealing with this particular situation. There’s… one of our human rights instruments deals with the question of disappearances. And so they’re looking into this matter, and we’ll try to get information from them first and foremost. And then other parts of the system can work on that as needed.

Inner City Press: Sure. And then can I, there’s a high-profile case in France of a 22-year-old person that was arrested on video and has said to have been raped or sodomized during the arrest. His name is Theo. And there have been riots in France for several days on it. I’ve checked at least everything that’s been sent out by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. I haven’t seen anything. Is the UN aware of this case? And what do they think of… of both police treatment of people in France and of how the protests are being dealt with?

Deputy Spokesman: Well, regarding protests, of course, we want to make sure that the freedom of expression and the freedom of peaceful assembly are upheld. Beyond that, this is a case that, ultimately, the judicial system would need to look into, and we’ll have to see where they go with that.

Back on January 25 with at least these two, South Sudanese threatened with deportation by Kenya, Inner City Press asked UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric for the UN’s response. From the UN transcript:

Inner City Press: extradition questions, not South Korea extradition but are you aware of the impending extradition of South Sudanese human rights lawyer Samuel Luak, who defended Pagan Amum? Basically, a number of highly respected groups are saying that, if he’s deported, he will face unjust treatment. So I’m wondering, has the UN…

Spokesman Dujarric: I, I have, don’t have an update here, but, again, you can check locally with the mission.

Inner City Press: So that would be the resident coordinator? I’m talking about in Kenya.

Spokesman: In Kenya, you can check with the UN Information Centre in Nairobi.

Dujarric was until December 31 the spokesman for Ban Ki-moon, who before he left the UN promoted his own son in law Siddharth Chatterjee to the top UN post in Kenya, as Resident Coordinator.

In December as Kenya detained journalist Jerome Starkey, Ban Ki-moon’s son in law Chatterjee was entirely silent. Like his father in law has proved to be with the Press in New York, he is at heart a censor. But it makes a mockery of Ban Ki-moon’s post-Sri Lanka claims of “Rights Up Front,” even as Ban angles to run for President on South Korea.

In fact, in Sri Lanka Ban’s son in law is implicated in presumptive war crimes, the Jaffna Hospital massacre and the crushing of civilians with tanks. And it’s from him that Ban took his advice on Sri Lanka, where Ban oversaw the killing of more than 40,000 civilians.

Ban is allowing those scribes who ignore this and praise him to sell access to him on December 16 for $1200 on Wall Street. We’ll have more on this.

Tellingly, as the UN’s Resident Coordinator in Kenya, Ban’s son in law Chatterjee has remained silent not only on the targeting of South Sudanese but on the protests profiled in a study released by Article 19, here.

Ban’s son in law ignores Ban’s supposed “Rights Up Front,” given his action in Sri Lanka (see below) and because he is entirely unaccountable: he could only be fired by Ban Ki-moon, his father in law. Nepotism is harmful.

On December 3 Inner City Press reported the ever-increasingly likelihood that Ban Ki-moon’s son in law Chatterjee was involved in crimes of war in Sri Lanka, which neither Ban’s spokesman Stephane Dujarric nor Chatterjee himself, when asked in the UN lobby, was willing to answer.

For some time Inner City Press has heard that Chatterjee, as part of the Indian Peace Keeping Force in Sri Lanka, was a war criminal. Inner City Press asked Ban’s spokesman Dujarric if Chatterjee was involved in the Jaffna University raid, or the Jaffna hospital massacre, without an answer.

In the UN lobby, Chatterjee said he would answer at an “opportune time.” He has not answered. Chatterjee had his commander, Dalvir Singh, write a defense on Huffington Post and elsewhere, identifying himself as the commander of Chatterjee and of the 10th Para commandos.

Credits to Matthew Russel, Inner City Press. He specializes in investigating the fraud activities within U.N. 

The opinions are writer’s own and don’t necessarily reflect those those Kenya Insights. 

Bold, Dedicated Investigations, Thoughtful Opinions & Analyses on Kenya's Matters.

Copyright © Kenya Insights.

To Top