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Media Conference Call: Kenya's Elections

Speakers: Jendayi Frazer, Adjunct Senior Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations, Former Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, and Joel D. Barkan, Senior Associate, Africa Program, Center for Strategic and International Studies
Author: Anya Schmemann, Director, Editorial Strategy, Studies Program and Director, Task Force Program, Council on Foreign Relations
March 5, 2013
Council on Foreign Relations

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ANYA SCHMEMANN: Thank you. Good morning everyone. This is Anya Schmemann with CFR. I'm director of the Task Force Program here. And we're here to discuss Kenya this morning.

Yesterday, Kenyans headed to the polls to elect a new president five years after violence resulting from the last election that killed more than 1,000 people. That disputed election in 2007 led to a power sharing agreement and a new constitution. And now the world watches as Kenya tries to take another step toward democratization and stability.

To discuss Kenya with us this morning, I'm joined by Professor Joel Barkan and Ambassador Jendayi Frazer.

Joel Barkan is professor emeritus of political science at the University of Iowa and senior associate with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Africa Program. Professor Barkan wrote a paper for CFR on electoral violence in Kenya. It's a contingency planning memorandum, part of a series produced by CFR's Center for Preventive Action that surveys trouble spots and makes recommendations.

Jendayi Frazer is adjunct senior fellow for Africa Studies at CFR. She's also a distinguished public service professor at Carnegie Melon University. Ambassador Frazer served as the assistant secretary of state for African Affairs and was previously special assistant to the president and senior director for African Affairs at the National Security Council, and was also U.S. ambassador to South Africa.

So thank you both for joining us this morning.

JENDAYI FRAZER: Thank you.

JOEL BARKAN: Thank you. Good to be with you.

SCHMEMANN: So let me start with you. Can you tell us right now what is the current situation in Kenya? By all accounts, turnout has been high, but there have been a few incidents of violence. The two leading candidates have both appealed for calm. What is the current outlook? Do you think election will likely be judged free and fair? And will it result in a runoff? Give us a quick snapshot, if you will.

BARKAN: Well, it's too early to say yet whether there will be a runoff or not, but it has come down to a two-horse race out of eight candidates, principally Uhuru Kenyatta, the deputy prime minister, who's currently leading with about 54 percent of the vote, and Vice President Raila Odinga, with about 42 percent of the vote.

All the other candidates combined hold less than 3 percent, but significantly, there are about 6 percent of the ballots have been declared as spoiled. And this can be potentially very significant because under the Kenya Constitution, the winner must receive 50-plus-one percent of the votes cast. And if he or she does not win in the first round, then it goes to a second round runoff.

And the spoiled ballots, if they're included in the current vote total, will therefore necessitate a runoff and it would be the other way around if they're excluded. And the constitution is somewhat vague on this, but most likely those votes have to be included. It will be a subject of court petitions. In other words, we are entering a quite potentially messy situation here.

Would you like me to say more about the voting process? Hello.

OPERATOR: We have lost Ms. Schmemann. One moment. We will try to get her back on the line.

DAVID MIKHAIL: Yes. OK. Sorry. Your line is open. This is David Mikhail, associate director of global communications and media relations with CFR. Unfortunately, Anya Schmemann, who is the presider, was disconnected. So I will move the call forward briefly until she gets back on.

Ambassador Frazer, if you can provide your insights; specifically, if you can provide also the long view connecting what we're seeing now on the ground with sort of the history of Kenyan electoral politics, particularly with what we saw in 2007.

FRAZER: Sure. Thank you very much. I guess I would start by saying that in many ways, this is an entirely different environment in which this election is taking place than took place in 2007. There are some common elements, which is that the candidates tend to align in coalitions based on counting numbers of communities, or regions, or ethnicities.

But the difference is that this election is being undertaken with entirely new institutions and a different consciousness of the population. There's -- the new constitution means that their election is not only at the presidential level, which is gaining all of the interest, but also their new governors and their new county assemblies in an effort to devolve power to localities rather than concentrate it in the office of the presidency.

There is also a new Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, which the last one was completely delegitimized in 2007 because it was unable to make a call. This one has been widely credited, although there have been hiccups, but they've -- they have a lot of legitimacy as well as new technology, which, obviously, when you're deploying that in election, there are bound to be problems. But nevertheless, I think it has greater confidence.

And then, there's an independent judiciary, so as Joel says, if indeed there are going to be issues of, you know, the votes and the ballots, et cetera, and always, whomever losses always raises issues. This is common across Africa, so not unique to Kenya. There should be some confidence that this judiciary would be able in fact to adjudicate those disputes, whereas in 2007, there was a lack of confidence, particularly on the part of one of the lead candidates today, Raila Odinga, that the courts could actually fairly judge and address some of the electoral challenges.

And then, of course, there's a security consciousness, both of the government as well as civil society. Because of the extent of the 2007 election violence, there's a sense that the population is saying that we're going to demand and have a peaceful election. The government has been more vigilant about making sure that their security forces are deployed broadly or widely across the country. So that's the main, I think, distinction between 2007 and 2013. There's a significant more tension. The large voter turnout is a clear indication that the people are trying to own this process as well as decide their future by determining who governs them.

A successful election is extremely important in Kenya because of its high priority, both in -- or its -- its strategic location, both within the East Africa community and the impact that a bad election would have on its neighbors, as well as a significant role with the United States: It's the hub country of East Africa, it's playing a significant role in the counterterrorism efforts, particularly related to Somalia. It's the economic engine of East Africa and the host of many international organizations and businesses. And so stability in Kenya is key to the stability of the entire region.

SCHMEMANN: Thank you, Jendayi. I apologize I was dropped from the call for a moment. But thank you for the answer.

Just to remind anyone who is joining us late, this is a CFR on-the-record call on the elections in Kenya. I'm Anya Schmemann and I'm joined today by Professor Joel Barkan and Ambassador Jendayi Frazer.

So an important election that is under intense scrutiny, the world is watching, high stakes for Kenya, and for its neighbors, and for the region.

Joel, one more question to you and then we'll open it up here. There are some odd twists in this election, one of them being, you know, that one of the two top candidates has been charged by an International Criminal Court for his role in the last round of violence. If he does emerge victorious, what would that mean if he wins and -- does he need to go to court? What actually happens in that case?

BARKAN: Well, it's going to pose a very awkward situation, both for Kenya and the international community. Kenya is a party state to the Rome Statute which set up the ICC, one of 23 African countries that are members.

The case has been referred to the ICC and the trials were supposed to begin in mid-April, rather awkwardly in the first place, because that would fall right at the time of the second round of the runoff election, if there is to be a runoff election. The case is now -- the trials, that is, have now been postponed until August. And so we're really in a wait and see mode as to both the outcome of the election and how the case goes forward. Uhuru Kenyatta has stated repeatedly that he is both innocent and will cooperate with the court, but whether in fact the trial will proceed, as I've just said, it remains to be seen.

I'd like to just say one thing about the ongoing events in Kenya right now.

SCHMEMANN: Please.

BARKAN: Unfortunately, the polling, which went very well yesterday notwithstanding malfunction of electronic voting equipment in perhaps up to 25 percent of the polling stations, proceeded very well at the polling stations. The polls remained open so all could vote, although in some of the urban areas, that voting was not completed until as late as 1:00 a.m., in Eldoret, for example.

The count is proceeding, but there is, unfortunately, a similarity to what unfolded in 2007, where, generally speaking, things went well at the polling station but it was in the results transmission. And notwithstanding a highly sophisticated electronics transmission system that's been set up, those reports at the headquarters of the new electoral commission have been coming in rather slowly and rather disturbingly in that there have been long periods of time where there have been no updates, and then updates have flowed.

A lot of questions are going around. The IEBC themselves have talked about a misconfiguration of their server system. And needless to say, these types of doubts inject tensions into the situation, particularly given the fact that it's come down to a two-horse race.

SCHMEMANN: So just take another quick second to walk us through what the next steps will be. So there will be obviously close inspection of these ballots? It will take some type probably to count and sort them. And then, if there is a runoff, when does that happen? So just give us a sense of what happens over the next couple of weeks.

BARKAN: Well, first of all, the results now are being -- are reported electronically are the provisional results. If there are serious discrepancies, the count will then be validated. The provisional results will be compared to a hand tally which has taken place at the polling stations, and then all the ballots will be brought to Nairobi.

There is considerable ambiguity when you ask what happens next as to when the official results will be announced, because given the subject of challenges, it could take place as soon as two weeks, which the electoral commission is committed to doing, or this might stretch out for over a month in which case, if there is a runoff, it will be pushed back. But there's a lot of ambiguity in this situation right now. And that's why it's actually fraught with some real potential for trouble.

FRAZER: But I believe that the law says that the results have to be provided within seven days. The IEBC has to give the results of their tally within seven days, so I don't think it can be extended out. There can be challenges to those results, surely, but they have to provide the results within seven days according to the IEBC commission chairman.

So, you know, I don't think it will be extended out, that we don't know for two weeks or two months, or anything like that. I think we will know who won and then the person who believes that they lost certainly will challenge. And even before the first vote was cast, given the way in which things go in Africa, almost always the loser challenges, you know. And they start making their case as they are losing, and then they change their tone when they start winning, if they do, you know, because of -- you know, the early votes are not necessarily the final votes, vote tally.

BARKAN: Indeed. And cries of rigging have been legendary in Kenya.

FRAZER: Yes.

SCHMEMANN: OK. So a complicated situation. And one that is still uncertain.

So at this point, let's open it up to questions, operator. If you could give instructions and we'll take some questions.

OPERATOR: (Gives queueing instructions.) Our first question comes from Mark Goldberg with U.N. Dispatch.

QUESTIONER: Hi, everyone. Thanks for holding this call. Obviously very timely. I had a quick point of clarification for Joel Barkan. Did I hear you correctly say that at least 25 percent of the voting mechanisms are electronic in Kenya and that there is significant problems tallying those electronic votes? Can you sort of elaborate on that -- on that problem that you described?

BARKAN: Let me do so. Thank you for your question. Kenya does not use electronic voting equipment. They use paper ballots. And, as was stated earlier by Secretary Frazer, this election is unique in that the voters are voting for six offices -- not just the presidency, but governors of the counties, members of parliament, and so forth. They're casting six separate paper ballots.

Where the electronic issue comes in is at two stages. Kenya opted for a biometric voter registration process, in which voters were registered using biometric equipment that was captured on computers, put onto a central database. And then that data was loaded back into electronic notebooks, basically laptop computers, that were specifically programmed with special software for the presiding officers in each polling station to use to verify that voters in line to vote were in fact registered voters.

You have a classic case here of excessive faith in technology. The voter registration process itself was barely completed and registered only about 70 percent of the electorate.

But now, at the time of polling, up to about 25 percent of those notebooks that contained the biometric data failed and they had to revert to a paper register. The presiding officers, however, were rather resourceful, and in most cases, the polling proceeded, although the polls closed in these cases much later than the original 5:00 p.m., which was the scheduled time.

So it's -- that's what I was referring to when I talked about electronic notebooks and voting equipment, not electronic voting machines as here, in the U.S.

SCHMEMANN: OK. Thank you for that clarification.

BARKAN: I'd also add there have been failures, however, in the transmission of the results over a mobile phone system that was set up with special applications to transmit the vote from each polling station back to the headquarters of the IEBC in Nairobi. You have two separate technology issues here that have come into play.

SCHMEMANN: Thank you. We'll take another question.

OPERATOR: Thank. Our next question comes from Kevin Kelly with the Nation Media Group.

QUESTIONER: Yeah. Hi. Thanks for doing this. I appreciate it. I had a question for both Professor Barkan and Ambassador Frazer. Are you surprised by the lead, the significant lead that Uhuru Kenyatta has so far? I realize we're talking about a third of the vote. And I'm actually not sure where the votes are coming from. Maybe that can explain it.

But also, I'd like you to comment on whether you think the Obama administration, specifically Ambassador Carson's not-so-veiled warning about the consequences of electing Kenyatta, whether that may have had the opposite impact that the United States probably wanted it to have and that there's a sympathy vote now that we're seeing for Kenyatta. Thank you.

SCHMEMANN: Ambassador, why don't you start with that second part about the U.S. administration? And then, to Joel, on whether or not we should be surprised by Kenyatta's lead?

FRAZER: Well, I want to -- I'd like to take both.

SCHMEMANN: Sure.

FRAZER: I think that I'm not surprised by Kenyatta's lead, because, first, I think it's an early lead and I think it would be a mistake to assume that it's going to be the final tally. I don't know whether he will or won't win, but I know that him and Raila have been neck in neck in the polls throughout. So, no, I'm not at all surprised.

Secondly, I do think that it was an unfortunate policy statement that -- or a statement that Ambassador Carson made given that it came after President Obama very correctly stated that the U.S. government doesn't have a candidate in this race, you know, and that what we're really wanting is a free, fair, and peaceful election. And that was exactly the right message. And then to come with the Europeans and to essentially threaten in some ways Kenyan voters that if they choose the wrong person -- I guess that would be Kenyatta and Ruto -- that there would be consequences, I think was very unfortunate.

What I expect is that both Kenyatta -- you know, I don't think it's a sympathy vote for Kenyatta. I do think that there was that risk that when you inject yourself into somebody else's election, you never know how it's going to play.

But I suspect that however it comes out, whether Raila or Kenyatta wins the election, American policy will be pragmatic because it has no choice but to be pragmatic given Kenya's importance to our regional interests and our ability to carry out those regional interests. In other words, Kenyatta knows that he needs the United States and the United States knows it needs Kenya. And so I suspect that where it might be awkward, there won't be a significant change in our policy stances towards Kenya or theirs towards us.

SCHMEMANN: Professor Barkan?

BARKAN: Well, I would more or less agree with what Secretary Frazer has said. I have a little bit different spin in terms of the impact of Secretary Carson's comments, but the main point, which she mentioned, is you have to be pragmatic here. There certainly will be some awkwardness and the relationship will go forward.

As to the lead by Uhuru Kenyatta, even if it does hold up, first of all, the polling leading up to the election has shown a very close race. And while generally it showed that Raila Odinga was in the lead, the recent polls of the last two or three weeks show that Uhuru Kenyatta closed the gap considerably and in fact might not -- might have even achieved a lead, but certainly within the margin of sampling error.

In addition, many observers have noted that turnout in the areas that are the voter base for Uhuru Kenyatta, that is to say central province, the homeland of the Kikuyu people, the most highly educated group in Kenya, tend to have higher levels of turnout. And I know that from talking with people involved in the Kenyatta campaign that the turnout factor just as was very important for President Obama's campaign in his reelection, they will affect the same page that you mobilize your supporters and that a victory might well depend on turnout.

The other aspect of his lead comes from the votes delivered by his partner, William Ruto, also a co-indictee at the ICC. And what is really remarkable here is that the entire Rift Valley area populated by the Kalenjin people have gone heavily, that is over 90 percent for the Kenyatta-Ruto ticket, something that's really quite remarkable since five years ago, these two groups were literally attempting to wipe each other out.

And, finally, in terms of Kenyatta's lead, the complete collapse of Musalia Mudavadi, the third significant candidate out in Western Kenya. He's actually losing to Odinga, Raila Odinga in his own stronghold of Western Province.

So the collapse of Mudavadi, the strong support that Ruto has brought to the jubilee ticket are the main explanations here of Kenyatta's success. And the question remains will, of course -- will it hold up? Only 40 percent of the vote is in. And we need to be very careful here about making a premature call.

SCHMEMANN: Thank you. We'll take another question.

OPERATOR: Thank you. Our next question comes from Dana Hughes with ABC News.

QUESTIONER: Hi. Thank you for doing this. I have a question for Professor Barkan. I was wondering if you could expand on -- you said that you were concerned about the returns that are coming in and that they are coming in slowly and you used the word "disturbingly." If you could expand on why you're concerned about that. In 2007, it was people were accused of -- and there was evidence that there was some leaking going on in the way that the results were reported.

And then, my second question is for Secretary Frazer. I'm wondering, when you spoke about the unfortunate comments Ambassador Carson made, is there not -- is there not a point to be made that there would be some type of change in the relationship given the current ICC indictment?

SCHMEMANN: Professor Barkan.

BARKAN: When I said I was disturbed is I'm disturbed about the possible breakdown in some areas in the transmission of the results from polling station to the national headquarters, the tallying center of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission in Nairobi. You have a brand-new system in place. As Secretary Frazer noted earlier, you have a brand-new electoral commission. All this was put in place to overcome the problems which occurred in 2007, when there was also a breakdown in the transmission of the results.

And now, notwithstanding new equipment, a completely new set of personnel, et cetera, we are seeing glitches that raise questions about the veracity of -- or certainly will raise questions on the part of candidates who come out on the short end. So this was to be a foolproof system. No electoral system can be foolproof, but the longer this goes on and the longer that presiding officers are unable to transmit the results, and they'll have to revert to a manual transmission of the results, then interjected into this process are real doubts that in turn raise the temperature in Kenya, and given the past, essentially is tinder that could be ignited. That's why I said I was disturbed.

SCHMEMANN: And, Ambassador Frazer, will the United States have a different relationship with Ambassador Kenyatta than a -- a President Kenyatta than a President Odinga?

FRAZER: Well, sure. I would imagine that from the point of view of the coziness of the relationship, given comments that have been made that there's been an indication that the West favors Raila Odinga, that said, given the strategic interests that are at play, there will still be a relationship between the United States and Uhuru Kenyatta if he becomes president, because those are based on state interests.

And the case, after all, is an unproven case. It's -- he's been indicted, but he hasn't been convicted. And I think that if you look at the pushing back of the ICC trial from April to August is because there's problems within the case. Specifically, one of the individuals who was considered a key witness, an eyewitness to the events that Uhuru Kenyatta is alleged to have participated in, which was a meeting, in which apparently there was discussion about financing the Mungiki, which is an armed gang of criminals to as Kikuyu gang to counterattack the attacks of those who were, you know, pushing their Kikuyus out of their neighborhoods, et cetera, that that event -- supposed eye witness has been dropped by the prosecutor, because they keep changing the testimony.

And so the case is an allegation. It is not proven. And that's why the high court of -- Kenya's High Court ruled that his presidential bid could go forward because, one, they didn't have the jurisdiction to determine the qualification of a person who was duly nominated, but secondly, under Article 50 of Kenya's constitution, a person is presumed innocent until, you know, until convicted.

And so I would expect a warmer relationship if Raila Odinga wins the presidency, but either case, American interests and Kenyan interests are aligned. There are mutual interests in working together, particularly on these major regional challenges, but also on the stability of Kenya itself.

And so, no, I don't think that it was appropriate to warn of consequences when, in fact, state interests are rather clear about our need to work with Kenya to realize our own foreign policy objectives in the Eastern Horn of Africa.

BARKAN: I would like just to add something here, just a couple of other dimensions, and that is, first of all, there are over 500,000 Kenyans living in the United States and part of a very large and significant diaspora, many of whom support Uhuru Kenyatta. Kenyatta also was educated here in the United States, spent a lot of time. And so this will also bear on the relationship as it goes forward. There will be awkwardness perhaps in the short term, but not the long.

The other is the ICC itself. We could go on for hours on this. I'd simply say that whether or not the case holds up, it's been handled very badly. If there were to be trials, they should have been last year. And this would all have been over by now.

SCHMEMANN: OK. Thank you. Let's take another question.

OPERATOR: Thank you. Our next question comes from Todd Johnson with GE Africa.

QUESTIONER: Hi. Thank you very much to both of you for taking the time to chat today. This question could go to either one of you. I'm wondering if you could remark on the likelihood or the ability of either candidate, particularly thinking of Mungiki. If things would sour dramatically over the next few weeks, and we would see, you know, an upsurge in violence, how easy would it be this election, compared to 2000, 2007, 2008, for the various candidates, for Raila and for Uhuru to mobilize their sort of youth supporters?

From what you've seen in the run-up in the past few months, have you seen the same warning signs, et cetera, that you saw in late -- you know, in November, December of 2007, or are we in a different situation in their ability to sort of call to arms the Mungiki or other groups. Is it the same or different this time around?

SCHMEMANN: Ambassador, you want to take that one first?

FRAZER: Well, maybe Joel can take that one, because it comes up in his report. I think it comes up in the "Electoral Violence in Kenya. Contingency Planning Memorandum."

SCHMEMANN: Joel.

BARKAN: OK. Well, first of all, let's begin with Mungiki itself. It's a very complicated situation. The then-leader of Mungiki in fact has opposed Uhuru Kenyatta in this election. It's not really clear where Mungiki stands or whether they're in fact relevant this time around.

There have been reports of militias across the country arming. There have been outbreaks of violence in the run-up to this election, but interestingly enough, they have not been with respect to the presidential election, but rather with the races in the new counties that have been established to create a devolved system of government. And most of those violent outbreaks as in Tana River, for example, last September have been with respect to gubernatorial races.

As for the mobilization by either side, the Kenya security forces, given what happened the last time, are far better prepared and have been deployed across the country. There is still a question of the shortage of security forces, which I noted in the piece I wrote for CFR. But the Army has been brought in as a backup under police command, and so the probability of containing an outbreak, should it occur like the last time, is far better than before, far better than then.

FRAZER: Yeah. I'll just add to that, on that last point. Whereas Kibaki hesitated to bring in the military the last time, I think they're part of the contingency planning for responding to security -- in fact, they are part of it and were deployed down to the coast when the police were attacked down there. So the (T ?) is prepared to use the military this time.

SCHMEMANN: Thank you. Operator, if you could just give our listeners a reminder about how to get into the queue.

OPERATOR: As a reminder, dial star one to ask a question. Our next question comes from Michelle Shephard with Toronto Star newspaper.

QUESTIONER: Hi. Thank you. This is a question for Secretary Frazer. I'm just wondering what you think the significance is of the more than 300,000 spoiled votes and that how could play out in the public in the next 24 to 48 hours?

FRAZER: Well, I would myself wait to hear what the IEBC has to say about how many votes have been spoiled or not spoiled. And, you know, normally, the issue becomes -- I think as Professor Barkan said, the issue becomes one of what's the difference in the win, right? It's the impact of whether 300,000 votes have in fact -- 300,000 have been spoiled and officially identified as such by the IEBC. It will -- it's a question of whether that would make a difference to the outcome of the race or not.

But I would be hesitant to start talking about numbers of spoiled ballots until that's an official statement of the IEBC, which I again say I have confidence in. And they will have to make, you know, a judgment on that. And then, you have a recourse. All of the candidates would have recourse in the courts.

And so often in elections, people start, you know, putting numbers out and talking about, well, this has happened and that has happened, but there's also a parallel vote count taking place, independent parallel vote tally taking place by a civil society group. And I would also judge the IEBC's results by the Elections Observation Group, which is, you know, a way to check the validity of the results given by the IEBC. I mean, this is a group made up of religious civil society and other NGOs on a non-partisan base and it's also a method used throughout elections across Africa. And so I'd prefer to wait to see what the official outcome is, but the 300 -- if it is indeed 300,000, it just depends on by how many the other candidate won.

BARKAN: If I could just jump here in here for a minute. The vote of -- the number of 310,000, which I mentioned earlier, is taken off the IEBC website, about 5.9 percent of the total votes cast. And that number has been reported by the IEBC from the beginning and has been steadily rising, as the vote totals have risen, about the percentage of the total vote cast are the same.

The number being reported has at no time matched the difference between the two leading candidates. In other words, if you gave them all to Raila Odinga, it would not change the results. Where it comes into play is on the constitutional requirement that to win, one must receive 50 percent plus one of the votes cast.

Then the question is are of all votes cast include those spoiled ballots, because they were put in the box, even though they were judged to be spoiled and not clearly indicating a preference for any particular candidate. That's where the issue comes up.

SCHMEMANN: Thank you. I wonder if we could just take -- I have just a quick question -- if we could just take a broader look at Kenya and its region. Kenya has often been called the anchor state of East Africa. And it's an in interesting neighborhood. You know, it's neighbors include Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan, South Sudan, Congo, Rwanda, Burundi. This is a difficult area. And Kenya plays a really important strategic and also stabilization role.

What are Kenya's neighbors thinking at this moment? How are they reacting to the election? What do they hope for the outcome? And what are the repercussions for its immediate neighborhood, Ambassador Frazer?

FRAZER: Well, I've spent quite a lot of time in the last two months actually in Kenya, and in its neighboring countries, in Uganda and in Rwanda, in Tanzania. And everyone is focused on this Kenya election.

And it's concerned because in 2007, the interdependence of their economies became extremely apparent when the landlocked countries at that time -- you're talking about Burundi, Uganda and Rwanda -- were not able to get fuel, were not able to, you know, get supplies brought into their country. So it was very clear how important stability in Kenya was to the economic prospects for the neighboring countries, and now you have South Sudan also among those countries which are essentially landlocked.

In addition, there are so many plans for East Africa infrastructural development, including Kenya having, you know, huge new discoveries and Uganda having huge discoveries of oil, and South Sudan planning a pipeline to come out through Kenya ports.

And so it's -- the stakes couldn't be higher for the neighboring countries. For the United States, Kenya's playing a key role in the effort to address al-Shabaab terrorism within Somalia. So our counterterrorism efforts -- I wouldn't say hinged. That would be too far. But certainly the prospects for advancement with an unstable Kenya are clearly -- we wouldn't -- we wouldn't be making very much advancement if Kenya becomes unstable.

And so, again, the stakes are extremely high. Kenya's the largest economy within the East Africa community. And so it plays a key role. So, you know, the neighbors are paying attention. The United States is paying attention, as evidenced by President Obama's message, and then also you had Secretary Kerry who recently called President Mwai Kibaki, also underscoring the need for peaceful, and stable, and free elections.

SCHMEMANN: Thank you. And, Professor Barkan, your paper for CFR on preventing violence in Kenya lays out a number of very specific recommendations for Kenya's neighbors, for the United States, and for the international community. But, in fact, it seems that the situation there is maybe better than you had been -- your worst case scenario that you outlined certainly in the paper. And you note that the United States has limited leverage, but maybe if you could just give us a -- just a summary of some of the very specific recommendations and proposals that you make there.

BARKAN: You're quite correct. The events that have unfolded since the paper was published in early January have turned out better than I foresaw at the time, specifically with respect to the IEBC. I had real doubts about whether in fact the election could be -- could go forward. Or, if it did, whether there would be such problems that there would be a complete breakdown. Clearly, that has not occurred.

On the other hand, some of the concerns that I expressed have manifested themselves, and I've discussed those earlier with respect to how the polling would unfold, the problem of the electronic notebooks, the problem of results transmission is still very much with us. So perhaps things, unfortunately, may be swinging back to some of my predictions.

As to what we do about it at this point, clearly, the time for improving the performance of the IEBC, we've done what we can. We beefed up -- that is to say the United States beefed up the advisory services it has the provided the IEBC via the International Foundation of Electoral Systems, which is operating in Kenya on contract to USAID. We've got a lock there. Secretary Frazer mentioned the parallel vote count. The United States is heavily in support of that, both financially in the trimming of those involved with this civil society operation.

I think I call for strong messaging. We did that both on the part of the president and Assistant Secretary Carson.

The one thing which I have concern about at this stage of the game, particularly if this election should head south, and that is the need for a robust international presence to facilitate mediation between the major parties that is particularly Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga, especially with respect to Raila, should he clearly lose the election.

The Carter Center, which is the main source of international observers coming from the United States, their delegation, originally, was to be headed by former President Carter. Unfortunately, that did not turn out to be the case for a variety of reasons I won't go into, but in terms of having a significant presence on the ground, capable facilitating international mediation, Carter could have performed that role.

The other aspect in this regard is the panel of African eminent personalities headed formally by former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, who played a major role of course in the negotiation that brought the violence during the end in 2008.

President -- former President Chisano of Mozambique, as I understand it, is in Kenya now. That group may well be called upon to bring the parties together if the election unravels. And the United States very much needs to be four squares behind that, because in the final analysis, this is not only a Kenyan election. It's an African election and I think we do best when we come in behind an African initiative.

SCHMEMANN: OK. Thank you. Operator, are there any more questions?

OPERATOR: There are no more questions at this time.

SCHMEMANN: OK. Well, then I think we will draw this call to a close. A very interesting situation that we will all be watching in the days, weeks and months ahead.

Once again, I want to thank our speakers and thank all of our participants. This was an on the record call on the Kenyan elections with Professor Joel Barkan and Secretary Jendayi Frazer.

You can find Professor Barkan's contingency planning memorandum on CFR's website, CFR.org, along with a number of other resources, including recent blog posts by Ambassador John Campbell on his Africa blog. And, again, thank you very much to both of you and thank you to all of our participants today.

FRAZER: Thank you very much.

BARKAN: Thanks very much. Take care.

SCHMEMANN: Thank you. Good bye.

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