Obama's Brother Locked Up In Nairobi Pot Bust!
Revenge or conspiracy? Barack Obama's Kenyan half-brother, George Obama, has been arrested by police in Nairobi on suspicion of possessing marijuana.
Might the President of Kenya's displeasure have something to do with the arrest of the half-brother of President Obama on spurious charges? I don't think it is a complete coincidence that the New York Times almost simultaneously ran a story about a 2007 exit poll conducted by the United States in Nairobi which found that President Mwai Kibaki, the incumbent, was declared winner, when the challenger Raila Odinga actually won the election. More below: ballot counters steadily took what appeared to be a presidential election victory for the challenger and delivered it to the incumbent.
George Hussein Onyango Obama the youngest half-brother of Barack Obama outside his home in the Huruma slum in Nairobi, September 2008 Photo: EPA
The 24-year-old, who denies the allegation, was told he would face a court hearing on Monday.
President Obama's young half-sibling was in the headlines last year after it was revealed that he was living in a corrugated iron shack in a sprawling slum as his brother ran for the most powerful job in the world.
George, who was the son of Mr Obama's father by his second wife, was one of the president's few close relatives who did not travel to Washington for the inauguration on Jan 20.
The two met previously when Mr Obama visited his ancestral homeland in an encounter that he described as a "painful affair" in his memoir Dreams from My Father.
Inspector Augustine Mutembei said the trainee mechanic would face charges of possession of cannabis and resisting arrest.
But the accused man protested his innocence in comments from behind bars. "They took me from my home," he told a CNN reporter after alerting the local correspondent with a telephone call. "I don't know why they are charging me."
He was later released from custody, according to a relative. It was not immediately clear whether his sheduled court appearance on Monday would go ahead.
Despite his humble background, he was angered by magazine reports last year that he was living in poverty on less than a dollar a day.
"I was brought up well," he said in a subsequent interview. "I live well even now. I think I kind of like it here. There are some challenges, but maybe it is just like where you come from, there are the same challenges."
And, a suggestion that there may be a conspiracy behind this arrest.
A Chaotic Kenya Vote and a Secret U.S. Exit Poll
By MIKE McINTIRE and JEFFREY GETTLEMAN–
New York Times, January 30, 2009
For three days in December 2007, Kenya slid into chaos as ballot counters steadily took what appeared to be a presidential election victory for the challenger and delivered it to the incumbent.
As tensions mounted, Kenneth Flottman sat in Nairobi and grew increasingly frustrated. He had in his hands the results of an exit poll, paid for by the United States government, that supported the initial returns favoring the challenger, Raila Odinga.
Mr. Flottman, East Africa director for the International Republican Institute, the pro-democracy group that administered the poll, said he had believed that the results would promptly be made public, as a check against election fraud by either side. But then his supervisors said the poll numbers would be kept secret.
When the incumbent, Mwai Kibaki, was finally declared the winner amid cries of foul, Kenya exploded in violence that would leave more than 1,000 people dead before the two sides negotiated a power-sharing deal two months later. With rioters roaming the streets, Mr. Flottman sent an e-mail message to a colleague saying he was worried that, in rebuffing his pleas to release the poll, the institute had succumbed to political pressure from American officials.
“Supporting democracy and managing political outcomes are two different objectives for a nonpartisan, foreign-based organization or country,” he wrote, “and sometimes there is a conflict that requires a choice.”
A year later, the poll’s fate remains a source of bitter contention, even as Kenya has moved to remake its electoral system. The failure to disclose it was raised at a Senate hearing in Washington last year and has been denounced by human rights advocates, who said it might have saved lives by nudging Mr. Kibaki to accept a negotiated settlement more quickly.
An examination by The New York Times found that the official explanation for withholding the poll — that it was technically flawed — had been disputed by at least four people involved in the institute’s Kenya operations. The examination, including interviews and a review of e-mail messages and internal memorandums, raises questions about the intentions and priorities of American observers as Kenyans desperately sought credible information about the vote.
None of those interviewed professed to know why the institute withheld the results. But the decision was consistent with other American actions that seemed focused on preserving stability in Kenya, rather than determining the actual winner.
When Mr. Kibaki claimed victory on Dec. 30, 2007, the State Department quickly congratulated him and called on Kenyans to accept the outcome, even though international observers had reported instances of serious ballot-counting fraud. American officials backed away from their endorsement the next day and ultimately pushed the deal that made Mr. Odinga prime minister.
After insisting for months that the poll was flawed, the institute released it last August — long past the point of diplomatic impact — after outside experts whom it had hired determined that it was valid. It showed Mr. Kibaki losing by about six percentage points.
The institute would not make anyone available for interviews. In written responses to questions, a spokeswoman, Lisa Gates, said that the decision to withhold the results was based on “a lack of confidence in the data, nothing else,” and that any suggestions that it was at the behest of the United States government were “completely false.” To clear its name, the institute has asked that the State Department inspector general look into whether the poll was withheld “at the request of U.S. government officials,” she said.
“Had I.R.I. released a poll which we had reason to believe was incorrect,” she said, “The New York Times would be asking — quite rightly — how we could have been so cavalier and irresponsible.” The outside experts’ review, she said, showed that the initial results were off by two percentage points.
Despite initial economic successes and popular support after his election in 2002, Mr. Kibaki had gained a reputation for playing divisive tribal politics, and his administration had become tainted by scandal. Still, he had a good relationship with the Bush administration and generally supported American counterterrorism policies in East Africa.
Mr. Odinga was viewed skeptically by some in Washington because of his flamboyant manner and his background: he was educated in East Germany and named his son after Fidel Castro.
Push for Information
Among those aware of the exit poll, there was rising clamor for its release.
“With the breakdown of the electoral commission, that is precisely the point when you want an exit poll to be released,” said Mr. Barkan, a Kenya expert and a senior associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
The institute remained silent until Jan. 15, 2008, when it issued a statement citing “concerns about the validity of the initial results.”
In February, with Mr. Kibaki resisting calls to share power, the leaders of two Kenyan human rights groups wrote an opinion article for The Times, saying the refusal to release the poll had “fueled mistrust.” After the poll was mentioned during a Senate hearing, the institute stepped up its public criticism of the poll, saying it “does not have confidence in the integrity of the data and therefore believes the poll is invalid.”
For Mr. Odinga, bitterness lingers. He declined to sign a letter the institute drafted last month that amounted to an unqualified endorsement of its conduct. Instead, he wrote that while he appreciated the institute’s past work, “the 2007 experience has cast some doubts among ordinary Kenyans.”
“While I have no evidence to make me believe that I.R.I. withheld the exit poll results at the request of the U.S. government,” Mr. Odinga wrote, “my supporters believe that had I.R.I. released those polls, they would have made a huge difference and even saved lives.”