Tuesday, November 07, 2017

37.6 - We Are Not Alone: Kenya, Kiribati

We Are Not Alone: Kenya, Kiribati

Now for our first-after-the-break feature, We Are Not Alone, a weekly reminder that there are events in the world that are of importance even if they don't affect us.

First we have Kenya, which is in the midst of a crisis of democracy as questions about its elections and their integrity drag on.

Incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta was elected for a second term on August 8 with 54% of the vote. But the opposition challenged the outcome and on September 1 the nation's Supreme Court nullified the results on the grounds of "irregularities and illegalities" by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, the IEBC, the body that oversees Kenyan elections. The court had never overturned a presidential election before.

It ordered a new election for October 17 which due to delays was held on October 26.

But before that could happen, the opposition candidate, Raila Odinga, announced he would refuse to participate in the election, saying it would not be conducted fairly, and urged his supporters to not vote.

What's more, in the period before the election some areas of the country were hit by ethnic tensions, violent protests, sporadic arson and looting, and deadly police gunfire during clashes. Police put the death toll at 19; human rights groups say it is more than 70.

While most of the country was calm, the violence was enough that voting did not happen in 25 constituencies because, it was charged, opposition supporters prevented election officials from delivering voting material and engaged in running battles with police.

When the election did come, Uhuru of course was declared the winner since he didn't have an opponent. He received, the IEBC said, 98.3% of the vote in an election with a poor turnout of just under 39%.

The drama, of course, hasn't ended. Raila has planned another appeal to the courts to overturn this election as well, with the low turnout, the violence, and the failure of the IEBC to agree to any of the changes in election procedures he wanted no doubt all figuring in the appeal.

He also has talked of the possibility of a campaign of civil disobedience to pressure the government of Uhuru's Jubilee party and his own National Super Alliance party intends to establish a People's Assembly to challenge Uhuru's leadership - a development which could simply be a way to organize a nonviolent political protest movement or it could signal an intention or at least a dream of a parallel government.

This is not over.

Next up there is Kiribati (pronounced "kir-i-bas," the "ti" is used for the "s" sound).

Kiribati is a nation composed of a series of atolls straddling the equator, southwest of Hawaii, northeast of Australia. Rather remote, rarely visited - despite attempts to promote tourism, it sees only about 6000 visitors a year - and extremely poor, it is still described as strikingly beautiful.

And it is about to disappear. The highest points on the atolls are only two to three meters - about six and a-half to ten feet - above sea level and as climate change brings rising seas, those numbers will slowly drop.

But long before that happens the atolls will become unlivable.

What locals, who are called i-Kiribati, labeled a tsunami on the atoll of Tarawa was actually "just" a normal wave on a particularly strong spring tide - but that "just" a normal wave was enough to wash over one of the atoll's highest seawalls and drown part of the island's only hospital and overrun a lush coconut forest with sea water, leaving the trees to decay into a field of darkened stumps.

The residents of the islands continue to build and rebuild seawalls further and further inland - but they know it's a losing battle: 77% of i-Kiribati accept that migration will be the result of sea level rise, saying, in the words of a popular song from a few years ago, "the angry sea will kill us all."

No comments:

// I Support The Occupy Movement : banner and script by @jeffcouturer / jeffcouturier.com (v1.2) document.write('
I support the OCCUPY movement
');function occupySwap(whichState){if(whichState==1){document.getElementById('occupyimg').src="https://sites.google.com/site/occupybanners/home/isupportoccupy-right-blue.png"}else{document.getElementById('occupyimg').src="https://sites.google.com/site/occupybanners/home/isupportoccupy-right-red.png"}} document.write('');