Long considered the most stable, most functional country in East Africa – with a prosperous agricultural sector, a multiparty democracy with a vibrant free press, and with a port and highway and rail system that supplies most of its neighbors with food and fuel – Kenya has fast turned into a country that seems perpetually on the brink of political collapse.
As the base for most United Nations and aid organizations working in East Africa, including in Sudan, Kenya has become too important to the international community to simply let fail. But getting Kenya’s political leaders to get along – as former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan did in January and February of 2008 – has become an increasingly difficult process.
The current crisis began last week, as an investigation revealed that top members of Kibaki’s Cabinet had sold off the nation’s food stocks of maize at the height of a drought, and had diverted millions of dollars of US and British direct aid intended for Kenyan schools. The results of the investigation were intended to remain unpublished, but leaks to the media showed that the scandal mars members of both Prime Minister Odinga’s party, the Orange Democratic Movement, as well as President Kibaki’s Party of National Unity. Agriculture Minister William Ruto belongs to the ODM, while Education Minister Sam Ongeri belongs to the PNU.