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Monday, July 22, 2024

Concerned about the lack of global condemnation for Kenyan President William Ruto

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By Rtd Lt Colonel Samsudeen Sarr,
former commander of the GNA

Is the reason President William Ruto of Kenya is not facing global condemnation because he is seen as the West’s “poster boy,” embodying the qualities of “Africa’s most educated and progressive leader”? It seems the world is turning a blind eye to his heavy-handed actions against the people of Kenya. Where are the UN, AU, and other international organizations that should be holding Ruto accountable for his behavior, which I view as condescending and beastly, largely due to his recent endorsement by the West?

On Tuesday, 25th June 2024, while Kenyan police were deplaning at Haiti’s International Airport in Port-au-Prince for a controversial military mission to combat the influence of powerful criminal gangs, back in Kenya, security forces were slaughtering peaceful demonstrators. These protesters, mostly youth, were exercising their civil right to protest against government tax hikes that are choking their livelihoods. What an irony! In addition to abducting civil-rights activists leading the nationwide protests against a draconian tax bill introduced and ratified by Kenya’s rubber-stamp parliamentarians-which President Ruto has vowed to sign into law in a couple of weeks-13 or more protesting Kenyans were killed by live rounds yesterday. The protesters even occupied the parliament building, setting part of it on fire.

With all honesty, I am not a fan of President Ruto due to his arrogance in trying to constantly prove to his Western admirers that he is the smartest and most educated African president—a PhD holder in plant ecology from Nairobi University. In doing so, he often inadvertently contradicts his actions. Soon after winning the presidency of Kenya in September 2022, he embarked on a global campaign, eloquently projecting a novel image of an African president who wanted to see African leaders unite to avoid being manipulated by world superpowers to their disadvantage. He vehemently questioned the rationale behind conferences organized by foreign countries such as the USA, Russia, China, and European nations, where African leaders are invited, treated as equals, and above all, have foreign agendas imposed upon them with no consideration for their own benefits. He spoke as a progressive mobilizer of African leaders, advocating for a unified stance against superpower influence, which was far different and better than the multifaceted representation practiced since independence.

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However, today, Ruto seems to be walking back on everything he advocated for regarding African leaders working together in unison for greater achievement and respect. When the UN failed in its attempts to commit the 193 member states to send troops or peacekeepers to restore law and order in the violent and turmoil-affected nation of Haiti, including all its Caribbean neighbors, President Ruto unilaterally took up the mission, apparently at President Biden’s request. The initial estimated force recommended by UN security experts to solve Haiti’s security problem was a minimum of 5000 troops. Despite stiff opposition from Kenyans regarding the risky mission far from Africa and without seeking the blessing of AU member states, Ruto committed 1000 Kenyan police officers, assuring the UN and the US that his “formidable forces can do the job.”

On the 16th of June, 11 days ago, President Doctor William Ruto, the PhD holder in Plant Ecology from the University of Nairobi and the most educated African president, was invited to the Western-organized Summit on Peace in Ukraine to deliver a special speech seemingly on behalf of African heads of state. This meeting took place in Burgenstock, Switzerland, where he denounced “Russia’s aggression against Ukraine as unlawful.” It seemed as if the Plant-Ecology doctor was deemed more qualified than all other African presidents to speak at the European summit, including President Mohamed Cheikh Ahmed Mohamed Ould Ghazouani of Mauritania, the current Chairman of the African Union.

Let me ask this: with his self-appointed role as the spokesman for African Presidents, has President Ruto ever raised his voice about the atrocities happening in Gaza? I don’t think so, because that would be out of line with his masters’ expectations. I think the doctor deserves the Uncle-Tom crown of the millennium, figuratively speaking. It’s about time people start questioning whether high degrees are the perfect requirement to lead nations effectively. A doctorate degree in plant ecology—what relevance does that have in politics and government other than an offbeat political entitlement?

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Furthermore, he must have felt hypocritical when his government showcased one contingent of his police force trying to restore peace in Haiti while another was slaughtering defenseless people in the streets of Nairobi and beyond. Instead of apologizing to Kenyans, especially the victims’ families, and backing off from his unpopular tax bill in a country plagued with massive youth unemployment and a rising cost of living, Doctor Ruto last night announced the commitment of more lethal troops to suppress any public dissent.

In my opinion, President Ruto should be unequivocally condemned by world leaders, the clergy in Kenya, and every civil and human rights organization, with stern warnings of consequences for his insensitive behavior. If the learned doctor and president thinks that life in Kenya or his personal life will soon return to normal after such a murderous spree on defenseless civilians, he must be dreaming. The man is no stranger to allegations of brutality, with an ICC case still lingering over his head.

According to experts, the kind of tax-based economy in Kenya is unsustainable and cannot be solely relied upon to finance his wasteful administration while ordinary Kenyans suffer in destitution.

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