An Open Letter to the Kenyan President,
His Excellence Mr. Mwai Kibaki
Your Excellence Mr. President,
It is great pleasure and honor for me to have the opportunity to write this open letter to you. Few months ago, there was an air of uncertainty and doubt about whether Kenya would embrace democracy or degenerate further into chaos and anarchy, a fate suffered by many countries in post-colonial Africa. The Prayers of the Kenya people were answered, and with your election as president, Kenya is saved from disintegration and decadence. Let me congratulate you for the historic victory the Kenya people have achieved through you and your National Alliance Rainbow Coalition (NARC).
I would also like, on behalf of Kenya Somali Community of North America and United Kingdom, to take this opportunity to extend my deepest condolences to you, to the bereaved families and the Kenya people for the untimely and tragic death of Mr. Ahmed Khalif Mohamed, Labor and Manpower Development Minister and the two pilots who died in the January 24 plane crash in Busia District. With the death of these individuals, Kenyans in general, and Kenyan-Somalis in particular suffered a great loss. May God rest
their souls in eternal peace & reward them bountifully for their service to Kenyans.
Mr. President, allow me to give you a brief background history of the Kenyan Somali Community of North America. In October 1987, a group of Kenyan-Somalis, who became disillusioned with the KANU government and its discriminatory and suppressive policies, formed a political party called “Kenya Democratic Party” to promote and advocate for democratic changes and improve human rights situation in Kenya. From a small group of concerned Kenyan-Somalis, Kenya Democratic Party grew to a strong and
dedicated organization with many members from North America.
To reflect the new membership reality of our group and non-political community services we engage, we changed the name from “Kenya Democratic Party” to Kenyan Somali Community of North America. However, the purpose of our group remained the same, promotion of democracy and justice in Kenya.
Our organization played an instrumental role in the democratic struggle of the Kenyan people over the last two decades. In the late 1980s, we worked with Kenyan Committee for the Release of Political Detainees (KCRPD), Amnesty International, Survival International, Minority Rights Group, Mwa Kenya, Umoja, and the United Nations Human Rights Commission. and the Antislavery Society. In working with these organizations, we sought to expose the excesses of the KANU government, in particular its human rights violations, rampant corruption and nepotism in the government and the need for multiparty political system in Kenya. We organized many peaceful demonstrations in several countries all over the world to inform the International community of the political situation in Kenya and to call on governments to pressure President Moi to make the necessary democratic
changes. We believe that our struggle bore fruit and contributed to the democratic victory we have just achieved.
Mr. President, I would now like to draw your attention to an issue that is very important to many Kenyan Somalis. Since independence, the Northeastern Region of Kenya has been lagging far behind from the rest of Kenya in terms of socioeconomic development, political inclusiveness, security and general sense of collective belonging to the nation. To give you few examples of the unique economic problems of this Province, livestock is the economic backbone of the NEP and the successive Kenyan governments failed to find a suitable and sustainable market for this important natural resources of our nation. Nor did they put in place the necessary infrastructure to develop it to its potential. It was very encouraging to hear your government’s plan of action as it relates to the North Eastern Province.
We are pleased to know that your government is going to undertake major economic programs in that part of Kenya, including a road linking Mandera and Garrisa, introducing new education programs, improving the health system and establishing Kenya Meet Commission in Wajir. And most importantly, privatizing the Wajir Army Airport that will revitalize the local economy. The people of NEP were also delighted to hear your recent speech at the 9th parliamentary session in which you mentioned that Northeastern Province is one of your priority areas for development programs. We hope your government will come up with an action plan designed to implement these important programs with reasonable timeliness.
Mr. President, the former KANU government succeeded in driving a wedge between the Kenyan-Somalis and non-KANU political parties. Through manipulation of public media and fear mongering, a perception was created among northeasterners by the Moi regime that only KANU party is sensitive and listening to the unique needs and problems of NEP. This perception is reflected, as you are aware, in the last general election, where the majority of residents in NEP voted for the KANU party. This vote was not out of love for KANU party but out of fear for a perceived threat. The Moi government managed to portray other political parties as too sectarian and anti-Somalis, while at the same time it ruled NEP with a reign of terror.
Mr. President, a major task before your government is to ensure that such a divisive and negative perception does not become a self-fulfilling prophecy. KANU supporters are already warning people that the NARC government will never live up to its promises regarding Northeastern Province and will not include ethnic Somalis in the government’s senior positions. Instead, they claim, NARC is going to remove those Somalis who are already serving in senior government positions. I’m confident, however, that you will prove KANU critics wrong and dispel the myth that NARC is an anti-Somali party. Many Kenyan-Somalis remember the memorable position you took on the Wagalla massacre debate in the parliament in 1984, when you, as vice president and government house leader, convinced other members to give a chance to late honorable Ahmed Khalif to present his case to the parliament.
Mr. President, the Northeastern Province of Kenya faces a multitude of socioeconomic and security problems. Given the frontier nature of this province and political chaos that exists in the neighboring countries, security in this part of Kenya has been a thorny problem over the last 15 years. Northeasterners become hostages of a series of security measures undertaken by the Moi government to ensure security there. Unlike other Kenyans, Kenyan-Somalis in NEP lived under extra-constitutional rule. To the credit of former President Moi’s government, one of the positive steps it took was the appointment of a Kenyan-Somali Provincial Commissioner. In the light of the unique cultural and security realities of NEP, this was a very wise decision on the part of the KANU government. My advice to you, Mr. President, is to make a similar appointment of an ethnic Somali Provincial Commissioner to this province. This should not be construed as an irrational tribal demand. Rather it should be viewed as part of solving the unique problems of North Eastern Province.
Mr. President, Kenya has entered into an era of hope and healing. History, Mr. President, has accorded you a great opportunity to lay the foundation for a new Kenya free of corruption, of discrimination and of injustice and based on the principles of democracy and respect of human rights and dignity. Kenya is a great nation and deserves a great leader like you, Mr. President.
I want to conclude this letter by saying that I’m very much proud of the role Kenya is currently taking in reconciling the Somali political groups. I believe this is a long overdue regional role that Kenya should play. Kenya must be in the forefront in resolving Somali political turmoil. I hope your government will spare no effort in finding a peaceful solution to the Somali crisis. Peace in Somali is peace in Kenya and in the Horn of Africa. This region, I believe, is in great need of a leader whose political vision transcends narrow national interests. I trust that you and your government will continue to take leading role in reconciling Somali groups.
Thank you, Mr. President
Abdi D. Omar, Chairman
E-mail: [email protected]
Kenyan-Somali Community of North America
March 14, 2003
CC. Kenyan High Commission, Ottawa, Canada
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