World Socialist Web Site Uhuru Kenyatta was inaugurated as Kenya’s president on April 9, after
winning 50.07 percent of the vote to defeat Raila Odinga. He ran as the
leader of the National Alliance party, launched in May 2012, trying to
cultivate an image as a reformer and “visionary” Pan-Africanist leader.
Thursday, May 30, 2013
months after the election, the anti-working class character of his
program and his close ties to the imperialist powers and their war in
neighboring Somalia are transparently obvious.
Kenyatta has announced that he will cut public wage costs from 12
percent to 7 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), in a society with
40 percent overall unemployment and 75 percent youth unemployment.
has claimed that high wage costs are depleting money necessary for
large-scale development projects, in a likely reference to the planned
Lamu Southern Sudan-Ethiopia Transport Corridor. This plan aims to
facilitate the extraction of oil and mineral resources from nearby
Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo.
Workers in Kenya face
mass unemployment and staggering economic inequality. “The unemployment
crisis is a ticking bomb. Over 60 percent of the population is under 25.
You cannot ignore that,” noted Yusuf Hassan, a Member of Parliament. “A
huge and significant population is restless. And the gap between the
rich and poor is getting wider.”
Kenya is also a key base of US
military operations in East Africa, hosting CIA and US Special Forces
personnel. Kenyatta has signaled that he will continue Kenya’s
US-sponsored war in Somalia, ostensibly a crucial front in the “Global
War on Terror.”
Speaking at the Summit of Heads of State on April
28, held in Arusha, Tanzania, Kenyatta asserted that every effort must
be made in the fight against “terrorism,” according to him the primary
cause of regional instability: “Kenya has acted so decisively to combat
the scourge of terrorism and restore peace to our neighbor in Somalia.
We must continue to combat collectively the threat of terrorism in our
Since 2011, Kenya has sent thousands of troops to fight
in Somalia, supposedly to defeat the terrorist threat posed by Somalia’s
Al-Shabaab militia, which is targeted by Washington. These operations
aim to shore up the US-backed Transitional Federal Government (TFG)
puppet regime in Somalia, which currently controls the capital,
The Kenyan invasion was backed by US drone strikes on
targets inside Somalia. Both the drone strikes and the Kenyan
intervention in Somalia are continuing.
“Just getting rid of the
Al-Shabaab would have been simple, but the new challenges like
stabilising Jubaland, handing over the region to a new leadership, have
made it impossible to tell when we are ever going to leave Somalia,”
said a Kenyan officer, speaking anonymously. “The truth is we are not
leaving this place any time in the near future if events on the ground
remain this way.”
Kenya’s military intervention in Somalia is only
the latest US-sponsored war in the strategically critical Horn of
Africa. Washington briefly mounted a direct military intervention in
1993 in Somalia. In 2006 the Bush administration green-lighted a
full-scale Ethiopian invasion of Somalia, aiming to defeat the Islamist
Al-Shabaab militia and the United Islamic Courts, who emerged as the
main opponents to the US-backed government.
This month, Kenyatta
was invited to meet with British Prime Minister David Cameron in London
for a counter-terrorism conference, focusing on the situation in
Kenyatta has been indicted by the International Criminal
Court (ICC) for fomenting inter-communal violence after the presidential
election of 2007 between Raila Odinga and Mwai Kibaki, which Kibaki
won. Before the 2013 election, the US and Britain publicly threatened
Kenyatta with punitive measures, should he win the presidency. They have
backed away from these threats, however, in the wake of conciliatory
moves by the new administration.
The 2007 violence was the worst
Kenya had seen in decades. Over 1,000 were killed and 600,000 displaced
by systematic ethnic killings, in a conflict between rival factions of
Kenya’s ruling elite.
By aligning himself with the major
imperialist powers, Kenyatta appears to have succeeded in evading the
ICC case against him, which dominated coverage of the Kenyan election
campaign in the Western media.
Analysts are now suggesting that
the ICC case against Kenyatta will not go forward at all. On April 5th,
three out of 12 prosecution witnesses chose not to testify against
Kenyatta. The prosecutor claimed that at least one of the witnesses
withdrew over “concerns about retaliation against his family from the
While celebrating a “golden jubilee” at an
African Union (AU) summit in Addis Ababa, African leaders passed a
resolution urging the ICC to drop charges against Kenyatta and transfer
them to Kenyan jurisdiction. Kenyatta commented: “I must say I’m glad
that the AU is pulling together and getting common positions.”
May 1, Kenyatta announced that his government will strengthen ties with
the UK, especially on security and infrastructure. The administration
released a statement on Wednesday saying that Kenyatta announced his
desire for a closer relationship with the UK during a visit from British
High Commissioner to Kenya Christian Turner.
substantial support for Kenyatta, including a large influx of British
investment and the establishment of Nairobi as the “East African capital
of financial services.” During the months leading up to the election,
Turner had insisted that the UK would cut off all but “essential
contacts” with the regime should Kenyatta come to power.
Kenyatta’s family has a long history of collaboration with imperialism.
Kenyatta is the son of long-time head of state Jomo Kenyatta, and was
ranked by Forbes as Kenya’s richest man. He inherited a fortune
based on landed estates, Kenya’s largest dairy company, five-star
hotels, and substantial holdings in banking, insurance and exclusive
The close relationship between the Kenyatta family and US
and British imperialism emerged out of Britain’s bloody suppression of
the 1952-1960 anti-colonial Mau Mau uprising against British rule.
During these eight years, the country was placed under a “state of
emergency.” London and its local stooges used concentration camps and
systematic torture to crush the uprising; hundreds of thousands of
people suspected of Mau Mau ties were held in concentration camps, where
they faced regular beatings, torture and starvation.
official death toll from the insurrection was 12,000, other sources say
that many times this amount were killed. The Kenya Human Rights
Commission claims that 90,000 Kenyans were executed, tortured or maimed
during the crackdown.
Jomo Kenyatta was himself jailed for much of
the 1950s as an alleged Mau Mau supporter, but the British authorities
concluded that he would be a reliable defender of imperialist interests
and that his years in prison would provide useful anti-colonial
Kenyatta ruled Kenya from independence in 1963 until
1977. After coming to power he positioned himself as a bitter opponent
of the Mau Mau and of the anti-colonial struggle. In an April
1963speech, he declared: “We are determined to have independence in
peace, and we shall not allow hooligans to rule Kenya. We must have no
hatred towards one another. Mau Mau was a disease which had been
eradicated, and must never be remembered again.”