"Whenever I go into a restaurant, I order both a chicken and an egg to see which comes first"

Sunday, September 17, 2023

America The Corrupt - The Trump Indictments And Lessons From The Big Men Of Africa

Donald Trump is under four indictments for various alleged federal and local crimes, yet his popularity remains high; and if the presidential election of 2024 were held today, it would end in a dead heat. 

Why? ask perplexed Democrats. How is it possible that a man responsible for so much wrongdoing, so many disruptive, anti-democratic activities, still have a chance for re-election let alone the possibility of a resounding win?  How could the half of the American electorate that support the ex-President be so ignorant and defiantly so, refusing to acknowledge any guilt or even complicity in the supposed coup of January 6?  

Trump is a criminal, opponents say, a bald-faced liar, a manipulative, abusive and dangerous man.  His sexual derelictions, tax evasions, phony record-keeping, and political malfeasance all show not only his unfitness for office but his deep-rooted criminal personality. 

His supporters cry nonsense.  The indictments are part of an orchestrated witch hunt to bring down a powerful, popular political opponent.  Trump is guilty of nothing, a bit careless and overeager perhaps - such exuberance and political defiance are part of his electoral persona - but no criminal by any means. 

Now, the indictments against Mr. Trump are chicken feed compared to those brought by the International Criminal Court against President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya who was charged with complicity in genocide. Kenyatta denied charges of crimes against humanity relating to ethnic violence after the 2007 elections that left some 1,200 dead and 600,000 displaced.

Mr. Kenyatta was the first head of state to appear before the court, after he was charged in 2012.The prosecution repeatedly asked for more time to build its case, saying witnesses had been bribed and intimidated, and the Kenyan government had refused to hand over documents vital to the case. Human Rights Watch had accused the Kenyan government of acting as a roadblock and "impairing the search for the truth". 

The charges were dropped on a series of technicalities - the ICC could not amass enough evidence to convict him (credible rumors circulated that he had intimidated potential witnesses and destroyed crucial files making prosecution impossible) and he went on to reelection as one of the most popular presidents in Kenya's history.  

Fergal Gaynor, a lawyer who represents victims of the violence, said that there was a "widespread feeling of disappointment" at the dropping of the case against Kenyatta.

He said there had been a "well-organized and systematic effort to undermine the ICC justice process and much of the blame for that can be laid with President Kenyatta's government".

Gaynor said the victims had been "robbed" of justice and there was little legal recourse left.

"Frankly, this marks the end of the road," he said.

At dawn, thousands of cheering supporters lined the streets leading from the airport to the center of the city. They waved Kenyan flags and chanted Kenyatta's name, amid songs declaring his innocence. Kenyatta was received in Nairobi by dancers and a military guard of honor. 

In the Central African Republic elections were held in 2016 and won by President Faustin-Archange Touadéra, but fighting among militias many of whom supported former President Francois Bozize in exile continued, and the UN blamed rebel groups for the country's instability.

Francois Bozizé returned to the CAR in December 2019 after living in exile for six years and announced he would stand for election - a move that was seen as high-risk given the country's lingering civil unrest but not unexpected although he faced UN sanctions for his alleged support of the "anti-Balaka" groups in 2013. 

CAR authorities have also issued an arrest warrant against him for "crimes against humanity and incitement of genocide".

However Bozizé still maintained a large following, especially in the army and among the country's largest ethnic group, the Gbaya, but his candidacy was rejected.  Had it been approved, he might likely have retaken the presidency. 

Togo's President Faure Gnassingbé won re-election in 2020. However, opposition leader Agbéyomé Kodjo accused the authorities of widespread fraud - accusations which the president's office roundly denied. 

Kodjo, former prime minister and head of the national assembly, accused the authorities of setting up fake polling stations, ballot stuffing and facilitating multiple voting in Gnassingbé's favor.

A few years ago Ivory Coast's President Ouattara said he would step down; but two of the front runners were barred from standing in the election - Laurent Gbagbo who despite allegations of fraud similar to that of the Kenyan President, noted above, was acquitted of crimes against humanity at the ICC; and Guillaume Soro, a former prime minister and rebel leader living in exile, who was sentenced to 20 years in jail in absentia.  Forty other candidates, most of whom with pasts as shady as these two, were barred for political reasons. 

Jacob Zuma, former president of South Africa, was sentenced to 15 months in prison for contempt of court after failing to appear before a corruption inquiry.  

So what's new about Donald Trump's indictments? Nothing. What is surprising about his continued quest for leadership in spite of these accusations? Nothing.  And what is surprising about the former president's popularity? Nothing at all. 

Except perhaps that the rest of the world is having the last laugh.  America, the country which has preached moral order, civil justice, human rights, rectitude, and exceptionalism turns out to be no different from the benighted, endemically corrupt countries of Africa. Presidential indictments, fraud, and corruption, nothing new there.  Join the crowd. 

A Washington Inspector General (SBA) has issued a report saying that $78 billion of federal pandemic funds have been stolen in massive fraud; and once again the United States must be compared to the worst African dictatorships.  A recent leader of Ethiopia who was either killed or murdered was the beneficiary of illicit billions. 

Idriss Deby, the former dictator of Chad played the World Bank for fools, continued his despotic rule and benefited personally from the billions in natural resource wealth of the country.  The lionized dictator of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, has lead a repressive regime and has lied or distorted reports about his support for terrorist activities in the Congo.  The list goes on.  

So no one should be exercised over Donald Trump's travails, his popularity, or the rash of questionable legal moves to discredit him. This is a mere side show to the main events in Africa and just about everywhere else in the world. Get over it, go to the polls, watch the lion tamers, clowns, and contortionists, and go home. 

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