My Lords, with the leave of the House, I shall now repeat a Statement made by my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary in the other place.
“I would like to make a Statement on recent developments in Pakistan and Kenya. Both countries are important to Britain and rightly important to many honourable Members. I know that the Foreign Affairs Select Committee visited Pakistan in November 2006, and that it was a key focus of its report on foreign policy aspects of the war on terror in July 2006 and then its report on south Asia in May 2007. I have today seen the letter from the honourable Member for Aylesbury, Mr Lidington, requesting an oral Statement on these crises.
“The situations in Pakistan and Kenya are very different, and I will deal with them separately. But there are important common elements to the recent crises that have afflicted these important regional powers. Both countries have experienced strong economic growth in recent years and the middle class is growing, but poverty is widespread and rising inequality is causing frustration and disillusionment. Both countries face violence and terrorism, and both countries are undergoing political transition. They are working to embed democratic systems and structures but are struggling to overcome the tribal or dynastic allegiances that have fed personality politics. In these circumstances, there is a temptation to turn away, but there are some 800,000 British people of Pakistani origin, an estimated 13,000 British citizens resident in Kenya and over a quarter of a million British tourists visiting each year. The UK is Kenya’s largest foreign investor and our bilateral trade with Pakistan is worth £1 billion. Further, both Pakistan and Kenya are key partners in the fight against al-Qaeda. That is why the Government are committed to using all their assets to help these countries on the path to peaceful and prosperous development.
“I will begin with Pakistan. I am sure that the whole House will want to join me in reiterating our condolences to the family of Mrs Bhutto at this terrible time, and to the other bereaved Pakistani families who are grieving for loved ones killed or who suffered injuries in the senseless attack of 27 December. There is cross-party condemnation of terrorism in this House and a determination to stand with the people of Pakistan against the power of the bomb and the bullet, and I welcome that.
“Whatever the disputes about her periods in office, Benazir Bhutto showed in her words and actions a deep commitment to her country. She knew the risks of her return to campaign for election, but was convinced that her country needed her. The target of her assassins is all those committed to democracy in Pakistan and it is vital that they do not succeed. The courage shown by Mrs Bhutto is now required of others as they take forward the drive to democracy and modernisation.
“The Government’s aims and role are fourfold. The first is to ensure that the circumstances of Mrs Bhutto’s death are established. A five-member UK police team arrived in Pakistan at the end of last week and has begun work in support of Pakistani colleagues. The second is to promote free and fair elections. The delay in the elections as the result of the assassination is regrettable, but the period between now and 18 February needs to be used to build confidence in the democratic process. When I spoke to the House on 7 November I made clear my conviction that democracy and the rule of law are allies of stability and development in Pakistan. Since then, President Musharraf has retired from the military. He has lifted the state of emergency. Almost all political prisoners have been released and most media restrictions have been rescinded. But more needs to be done, and we have continued to stress the Pakistani Government’s responsibility to create a level playing field on which credible and transparent elections can take place. This means that all remaining political detainees need to be released and the remaining restrictions on the media must be lifted. In my last telephone call with Mrs Bhutto on 9 December, I pledged that the UK would work on the details of the election process. In recent days, the Prime Minister has discussed the elections on three separate occasions with President Musharraf. I have also spoken to interim Pakistani Foreign Minister Inam ul-Haque.
“We continue to call on the Government of Pakistan to improve the prospects for credible elections, particularly by increasing transparency both now and on election day itself. This includes setting out clearly and early where all the 54,000 polling stations will be, posting the results for each station publicly immediately after the count, and ensuring that the media’s ability to report is untrammelled. We also want to see local mayors discouraged from the abuse of state assets which would allow them to interfere in the electoral process. I am glad that the EU is now working to put together a full-scale election observation mission. I understand that the American International Republican Institute mission may also be reinstated, and I believe that the Commonwealth can make an important and positive contribution, and I hope that Pakistan will decide to invite an observer mission.
“Our third priority is to further improve counterterrorism cooperation. The deadly attack on Benazir Bhutto shows terrorism to be a threat to Pakistan, not just to the West. Over the last year, hundreds of innocent civilians have been killed in shootings and suicide bomb attacks in that country. We have reiterated the UK’s commitment to build on the already significant counterterrorism support we provide to Pakistan. A team of cross-government UK experts will travel to Pakistan next week for further consultations. This will be a precursor to a further British visit to deepen our counterterrorism relationship.
“Fourthly, we are determined to ensure that British citizens of Pakistani heritage and Pakistanis resident in the United Kingdom are informed about developments and engaged in the drive to build a decent society in Pakistan. I met some of their community leaders earlier today. While the next five weeks are important, so are the next five years, and economic, social and political development in Pakistan needs to proceed hand in hand with international support.
“Kenya provided the second crisis of the new year break. When President Kibaki won the presidency in 2002 it was hailed as the most free and fair election that Kenya had seen. Daniel Arap Moi’s party accepted the result and ceded power. Tribal and ethnic divisions were overcome as the population rallied behind the new Government. It was a moment of great optimism.
“It is a marked contrast with the situation which has unfolded since the election on 27 December. I know I speak for the entire House in condemning the appalling post-election violence in Kenya, particularly the brutal killing of Kikuyu women and children in the church near Eldoret on 1 January.
“Let me deal with the three issues that have preoccupied the Government and indeed the whole international community over the past week: violence and the resulting humanitarian crisis, the elections and mediation. I have arranged for the nine Statements put out by the Prime Minister, myself, the International Development Secretary and our High Commissioner in Nairobi over the last week to be deposited in a single file in the House Library.
“The urban violence of the middle of last week has subsided. This is obviously welcome. But the reporting from rural areas suggests that there are up to 250,000 refugees. And there is the potential for violence to erupt again. That is why since 2 January our travel advice, along with other countries, has advised against non-essential travel to Kenya. That advice will remain in place until the security and political situation is clarified. We are advising Britons in Kenya to exercise extreme caution, to remain indoors in the affected areas and to seek local advice, from the tour operators or local authorities, if they need to travel.
“The humanitarian crisis we have all seen unfolding on our television screens is due entirely to the post-election violence. The UN, World Food Programme and Red Cross are leading the international effort. The Department for International Development is monitoring the situation closely and has had a team on the ground in western Kenya. A £1 million contribution to the Red Cross has helped to provide shelter for those displaced and to facilitate the major food shipments from Mombassa which took place over the weekend. The Department for International Development stands ready to provide more assistance if it is needed.
“In respect of the election itself, millions of Kenyans queued for hours, peacefully and with dignity, to cast their votes for parliamentary and presidential candidates after a relatively calm election campaign. It is vital not just for Kenya but for the whole of Africa, with important elections over the next 18 months, that the democratic process works and is seen to work.
“However, the counting of votes in the presidential election, and more particularly the reporting of votes from local to regional and then national centres, has, according to reliable European Union observation, been plagued by irregularity. These irregularities stand in the way of the formation of a stable Kenyan Government who have the confidence of their own people and the international community. All allegations of fraud need to be investigated and the perpetrators brought to justice.
“This requires due legal process, but there is also need for political mediation. Individual acts of fraud are reprehensible, but there is a deeper issue. Whatever the actual result, the country was deeply split. Yet when Kenya needs the diversity of its views to be respected, the presidential system is designed to concentrate power when Kenya’s immediate and medium-term future requires the sharing of power.
“Kenya’s political leaders must be willing to make the necessary compromises to find a way forward, but there is little sign of them doing so without external help. That is why at the heart of all our conversations—with Kenyan, African, EU, Commonwealth, US and UN partners—has been the need for a credible mediation process to be established. President Kufuor of Ghana, the current chairman of the African Union, is due to arrive in Kenya soon, and he will do so with our full support. But he needs Kenyan leaders ready to engage. There are some signs of this: on 2 January, Condoleezza Rice and I called for a ‘spirit of compromise’. Fail to compromise, and Kenya’s leaders forfeit the confidence, good will and support of their own people and of the international community. The stakes are high for the Kenyan people, and we will remain fully engaged.
“I conclude by thanking staff in the FCO and DfID, in-country and here in London, for their outstanding consular and political work around the clock in the very trying circumstances of the past 10 days. Their work is far from done, but both countries are better off for the engagement of these officials, and they deserve the thanks of the House”.
My Lords, that concludes the Statement.
My Lords, I am sure all noble Lords are grateful to the Minister for repeating this Statement from the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary. We all react in horror to what we have seen and heard from both Kenya and Pakistan in recent weeks, particularly, as the Minister mentioned, the burning to death of 30 women and children in a church outside Eldoret in Kenya. That was perhaps the most sickening event in an appalling few days.
Do not both situations that have developed over the Christmas period confirm the extreme instability and fragility of the international situation generally and the need more than ever to be clear about, hold on to and look after our own interests and national security in this country? Do these crises not also confirm that while we all want to see democratic development, crude democracy does not necessarily equate with good governance, and that without general restraint, proper monitoring and law abidance, election campaigns can spell more violence, as in the tragic killing of Benazir Bhutto, and more division and carnage, as in the tragic case of Kenya?
I should like to deal first with Kenya, where the immediate humanitarian situation must be uppermost in our mind. It is good that quite a lot of UN and Red Cross food convoys are now getting through, but could we hear a little more about the situation at the port of Mombasa, which is the gateway of supply not merely to Kenya but to surrounding countries as well? Is not the blockage there and the reluctance of truckers to operate affecting not just supplies in central Kenya but vital food, equipment and supplies to the whole of central Africa? When will that be eased, because the situation in the past few days has been critical? Does this not underline the way in which civil disorder in the once orderly Kenya, for which many of us had such high hopes, spreads its negative effects like ripples through the whole region? Will we not have to pay a heavy price for that?
With regard to our own immediate interests, can the Minister confirm that all British nationals, both resident—he mentioned the number—and visiting, who make up a considerable number, are safe, well informed and in touch with our High Commission in Nairobi? Can he say anything more about the UK’s considerable commercial and investment interests in Kenya? I do not think that he mentioned any discussions with the DBERR—I have difficulty in remembering the name; it used to be the DTI. Is it correct that we have well over £1.5 billion worth of investment in Kenya alone and a number of major companies operating there? Have there been any reports of closures, withdrawals, sabotage or any difficulties? There seemed to be a bit missing from the Statement.
I turn to the lessons to be drawn and the actions now to be taken. Does the Minister agree that the Kenya tragedy underlines more than ever the need to avoid supporting corrupt leaders and to direct aid and support to the grass roots and to enterprise itself, rather than through corrupt bureaucracies and corrupt systems? Does he agree that the eruption of armed mobs and killing in Kenya, which is so untypical of Kenya’s recent past, comes less from old tribal rivalries— which have always been there and are still, to some extent, present—than from the rage that seems to be felt at the huge gap in wealth distribution between the rich and prosperous part of Kenya, which we tend to see in the newspapers and so on, and the slum-based majority in what is still a very poor country?
Regarding the politics of it all, we agree that we should now do everything possible from outside—although, frankly, that may be quite limited—to encourage electoral and democratic probity. Among all the international institutions sending envoys and seeking to help, such as the Commonwealth, the UN, the African Union and the EU, may we be assured that Her Majesty’s Government are giving the maximum possible support to the first of those, since it is the Commonwealth that is the most trusted in Africa, rather more so than the EU and other organisations? Does he accept that, for those of us who dreamt of and worked for an East African federation four decades ago or more, this is a time of sadness but also maybe a time of opportunity, which, together with other Commonwealth and African leaders, we should build on? Does he accept, as he also mentioned it, that, based on my own experience in the past few days in dealing direct with individual cases of people in Kenya, the UK High Commission deserves nothing but the highest praise, with a highly efficient and accessible emergency service that has served all those involved very well?
I turn to Pakistan and the murder of Mrs Bhutto, a woman of obvious courage and bravery—almost too much bravery, in the end. Our interest in restoring stability is even more direct. Events in Pakistan and the situation in Afghanistan are completely intertwined, with a permeable border between the two and large numbers of terrorists and fanatics feeding between them, particularly into Helmand province, as anyone operating there knows very well. Pakistan is the perhaps unwilling seedbed of terror—fed, it regrettably has to be said, by militancy often fostered here in Britain with our own ill judged and divisive multiculturalism that has done so much damage. In addition, Pakistan is at the centre of the nuclear debate, having already leaked secrets around the world. If control of Pakistan’s nuclear bomb fell into fanatical hands under a Government not of gentle, wise Islam, the kind we much admire, but of extreme ideological Islam, with its commitment to violence and its neglect of the Prophet, that would be a catastrophe for us all. Finally, as the Minister has reminded us, there are hundreds of thousands of British citizens of Pakistani origin in this country, all of whom must be deeply worried.
What now exactly is HMG’s policy towards that country? It is said that the USA had decided a few weeks ago to “back” Benazir Bhutto—which, if true, was probably her doom. Can we ensure that the Pakistani intelligence service, and indeed the whole formidable Pakistani military machine, are really working for our common aims in ridding Afghanistan of its Taliban nightmare and its terrorist infections?
Do we now welcome the postponed elections in any circumstances, which may or may not leave President Musharraf in complete control? What can we do, if anything, to see that the elections really are fair and open, in such a febrile and explosive atmosphere? Once again, the Commonwealth could be the best channel for our efforts. What use are we really making of it? There are many more questions to be asked about these unpleasant and tragic situations, and obviously not all are yet answerable. I should be grateful for as much guidance as the Minister can muster on those questions that I have put to him.
My Lords, we are also grateful to the noble Lord for repeating the Statement that was made in another place by the Foreign Secretary. We join the noble Lord, Lord Howell, in expressing our dismay at the horrific events in Kenya that have unleashed so much violence and destruction. As the noble Lord has just said, the effects have gone well beyond Kenya. Apart from the 250,000 people who are locally displaced and living in the most appalling conditions, as we have seen on our television screens, the fact that Kenya was the hub of the region, from which so many organisations operated to bring humanitarian assistance to the whole of east Africa, means that their operations may be undermined by the instability that has resulted from these events.
I am grateful for the assistance that has already been sent there, which was mentioned in the Statement, but I wonder whether it is in fact as much of a return to calm as was said in the Statement as to enable aid organisations to operate freely and to deliver their services throughout the whole of Kenya. From what I have seen of the reports, I understand that there are still large areas in which the situation is not stable and where it would be quite dangerous for foreign aid workers to operate. I should be grateful if the noble Lord would say whether we are satisfied that humanitarian assistance can be delivered throughout the whole country and whether any discussions have been held with the authorities about the possibility of providing armed escorts where it would otherwise not be safe for aid workers to go.
The EU Observer Mission found substantial discrepancies between the tallies at the polling stations and the numbers that were subsequently announced by the electoral commission. I gather from a conversation that I had with Nairobi this morning that many of the ballot boxes were not properly guarded and that they were broken into, or stolen, or have gone missing. It will be very difficult, with the best will in the world, for anyone to arrive at a true result. As your Lordships will know, the head of the European Union mission has called for an independent audit based on the reports from the polling stations, if they still exist. I should be grateful for some comment by the Minister on that. Even if the ballot boxes themselves have disappeared, do we still have the records of the individual tallies at the polling stations, which would at least enable the totals to be reconstructed?
The Commonwealth team has suggested a review by an international team of judges to determine who did or did not win. Has that suggestion been picked up? Is it President Kufuor himself who will be the facilitator of any negotiations between the Government and the opposition? Or will he simply be there to establish how that process should be organised and by whom it should be delivered? It is significant—I hope that the Minister will agree—that although there have been several people in the country talking to the leaders on both sides, most recently Dr Jendayi Frazer, the Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, it appears that, while there is an agreement between the two party leaders on power sharing, the mechanism for achieving it remains to be decided. Can the Minister confirm that Kibaki has agreed that there should be power sharing and, if that is so, what would be the mechanism for appointing the facilitator?
On Pakistan, I join in with the condolences that have been expressed with regard to Benazir Bhutto, whom I knew quite well and admired greatly for her courage and determination, particularly during the time which she spent in exile here in London, when the Pakistan People’s Party was under fire in her own country. The loss is not only to her immediate family but to the People’s Party and, indeed, the whole of Pakistan, whose return to democracy has been undermined by her assassination.
We note that Scotland Yard has been asked to advise on the circumstances of the murder—the Minister said a bit about that. Does the role of Scotland Yard extend to establishing the motivation of the killer, whether he was operating under his own initiative or on the orders of an organisation—and, if so, what was that organisation’s purpose? Does the Minister agree that there is a huge threat to Pakistan’s stability from terrorist gangs, not only those that commit such assassinations but from the murderers of the eight tribal elders in Waziristan, which was reported only yesterday, and the militant leader Maulana Fazullah, who broadcast an appeal on his FM radio station to his followers to kill members of the security forces? Is there any further help that Pakistan would like from the international community or Britain in particular in dealing with the terrorist threat and ensuring a peaceful election?
My Lords, I join noble Lords in praising the work of our High Commissions in Kenya and Pakistan. The staffs of both offices have had a couple of very tough weeks and have delivered extraordinarily.
On Kenya first, since noble Lords took the cases that way round, and on the issue of humanitarian assistance, because the violence and displacement is concentrated this time in rural areas we cannot speak with huge confidence about the level of access at the moment across the country or, indeed, whether there may not be pockets of violence that are continuing and have not yet been brought to the notice of those in Nairobi. It is fair to say that the Red Cross and the World Food Programme, which have traditionally used Kenya as hubs for their regional activities, have a huge capability deployed on the ground. Similarly, the good and bad news about Mombasa is that because it is the port hub for East Africa, food is able to be quickly moved from there across the country as long as access is possible. The bad news is, of course, that the disruption to Mombasa trade is clearly beginning to have a knock-on effect on Uganda and other neighbouring countries, as well as Kenya itself. The need quickly to return to a normalcy that allows the economic lifelines to resume is very great, and we shall continue to monitor it. While DfID has already made £1 million available, we will obviously be willing to make more available if resources become a constraint.
Secondly, on the point that crude democracy is not good governance, we are all getting an important lesson from both countries on the importance of having a vision of democracy that involves not just getting people to the ballot box and having elections every five years but building a real democratic culture, in which there is protection of minority rights and real power-sharing in an appropriate way as well as strong rule of law, an independent judiciary and the media being able to operate without interruption. We are seeing the limits of that in both cases, although particularly in Pakistan.
On the vote count in Kenya, it is difficult for us to be prescriptive about what is or is not possible. It would be very hard to reconstitute the paper trail of all the ballots as the voting actually happened. Certainly the rural count of votes seems to have been more reliable than the final tabulation and aggregation of votes in Nairobi at the centre, but it is hard to believe that there could be a vote count at this stage that would enjoy the confidence of all the parties.
The key job of a mediator is to look at the range of issues: the demands for a recount; the possibility of new elections at a later date—a rerun of the elections, if you like; and, critically, the possibility of constitutional changes. This winner-takes-all approach, with power concentrated in the office of the president and not shared with a prime minister, is something that Kenyans themselves have recognised is a huge obstacle to participatory, inclusive government in the country.
We expect President Kufuor to lead an effort that will do more than just start the process but will offer mediation and a way forward. Given that he already has a full-time job, I suspect that he may need to find others to help and support him in that process. We count on President Kufuor not only because he is a remarkable man—as noble Lords who know him will affirm—but also because he is the head of the AU and because Ghana is an important Commonwealth country. That combination of roles gives him the authority to lead an African approach to finding a solution. We will be extremely active, as we have been so far, in support of that mission to try to make it a success. I can confirm that President Kufuor will arrive in Nairobi tomorrow night and will begin work on Wednesday.
A number of issues were raised about Pakistan, including the role of Scotland Yard. As the Statement mentioned, the Foreign Secretary met Pakistani and other Asian community leaders this morning. I was at that meeting, and the Prime Minister joined it for a while. The point was made very clearly to him that Scotland Yard's integrity could be compromised if we were not clear about what it can or cannot do in a situation such as this one where a lot of the forensic evidence is no longer available. The Scotland Yard team will support the Pakistani investigation but it can only work with what evidence it can find. We recognise the possible limitations of that.
I should say a word on the other points raised. First, the intertwining of Pakistan and Afghanistan is obviously critical. In reflecting on the way forward for Pakistan, we must all recognise that a border area which was traditionally peaceful has become increasingly radicalised and a threat to the Governments in Islamabad and Kabul. We need a policy that brings that region of Pakistan back under the rule of law as quickly as possible. Secondly, we acknowledge what was said about radicalism and terrorism and its roots here in the UK as well as in Pakistan itself. This tragedy has reminded everyone that this is a shared problem. We are certainly conscious of the issues of Pakistan’s nuclear bomb, but there is no evidence at this stage that the control of that by the Pakistani military is under any threat or has in any way been compromised.
All of this points to the fact that the policy of the British Government must not be tied to individuals. The noble Lord suggested that the US Government had tied their flag to an electoral win by Benazir Bhutto. The British Government’s view is that the key objective for these elections is that all Pakistanis should believe that the result is credible. The elections will not meet western standards of freeness or fairness but everybody should believe that they broadly represent the opinion of Pakistan, because only from that starting point can a Government be built who can take on the critical issues of terrorism and radicalisation that were mentioned. So we are very concerned that our policy is seen as built around institutions and the integrity of Pakistan rather than around individuals.
My Lords, I associate myself with the Minister’s remarks about Benazir Bhutto, who was a very good friend of mine. Whatever criticisms may be made of her, she was thoroughly committed to the development of democracy in Pakistan.
I respectfully suggest that there may have been two omissions in the Statement. First, should it not have utterly condemned General Musharraf’s removal of the chief justice? Since President Musharraf’s action had no purpose other than to safeguard his own position as president, does it not cast in doubt his commitment to the rule of law and democracy? Secondly, is it not time that the restrictions on Mr Nawaz Sharif’s standing for election were also lifted? The Minister said that the US and the UK did not favour Benazir Bhutto over other candidates but is it not important that in the forthcoming elections the dice are not seen to be loaded against the more Islamically oriented parties?
My Lords, we repeatedly condemned the removal of the chief justice in statements made at the time it occurred. I welcome the opportunity again to confirm that we saw that as a major blow and a driving factor in the suspension of Pakistan from the councils of the Commonwealth. Restoring the integrity of the justice system to ensure it can operate freely both during and after the coming elections is a critical objective of our dialogue with the Government. We strongly believe that all parties and candidates should be allowed to stand. We have been in frequent contact with Mr Nawaz Sharif and we believe it very important that he and his party are able to participate.
On the point about Benazir Bhutto, whom we all so admired, we just hope that her party will not only live up to her commitment to democracy but, as it moves forward, keep the message alight of what she has spoken for and allow new leaders to come into the party from the very exciting new civil-society dimension of Pakistan. This crisis has also shown how thin the bench of leadership is behind people such as Benazir Bhutto.
My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for the opportunity provided to me to meet earlier today with the Prime Minister, the Foreign Secretary and the noble Lord himself. It was an illuminating and useful meeting. On the broader issue, I wish to make two points about Pakistan. The first is a short-term point and relates to the thriving civil society to which he referred. We understand the limitations of international monitors, particularly in the light of the insecurity of the frontier province and the other areas where they may not be able to travel. However, we also know—and I should say that I monitored the last election in Pakistan—that a good number of domestic monitoring organisations are available in Pakistan and that they could give us a better picture of the outcome of the elections. So the question to the Minister is: to what extent are we funding those domestic monitoring organisations in the absence of a Commonwealth mission that can carry out that brief?
Several times the noble Lord mentioned the importance of democratic institution building in both the countries mentioned in the Statement. He will be familiar from his work with the UNDP with the importance of per capita GDP growth in bringing about transitions to sustainable democracy where institutions work. The per capita figure usually cited is about $7,000 annually. DfID has nearly doubled its aid budget to Pakistan to £450 million over the next three years, which my rudimentary maths shows amounts to about £1 a year per head of Pakistan’s population. Do we really think that that can achieve very much in terms of Pakistan’s long-term stability? Can the Minister say where our aid to Pakistan ranks in the UK’s priorities? When I last looked at the league table, Pakistan did not figure even among the top 20 countries.
My Lords, first, I thank the noble Baroness for the advice she gave us this morning in the meeting with the Prime Minister. It was very much appreciated. Secondly, on civil society, we still very much hope that in addition to strong domestic monitors we will have both a strong EU team and a strong Commonwealth team. However, I know from my own experience of elections that that will not be enough unless there are also strong domestic monitors to really cover the ground, because there can never be sufficient international monitors to do that. I will look into what support we are providing to domestic monitors.
In our eyes the need for the elections to go honestly will be critical to the future of the aid programme. We have commitments to double aid but that assumes that there is progress towards free and fair elections. The noble Baroness was disappointed that the programme does not rank more highly. Pakistan still has a lot of poverty, but in overall per capita income it ranks much higher than the countries to which we target most of the aid programme. The fact that we are doubling aid to Pakistan is a measure of our belief that there are real problems and a real chance to improve the country’s social and economic status. But we have to balance that against countries with lower per capita income figures.
My Lords, I associate these Benches with the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Lamont, about a personal friendship with Benazir Bhutto; she knew many of us for many years.
In addition to the points already made, is not one common factor between the two countries that although people talk about Sind versus the Punjab or Kikuyu versus Luo, many organisations cut across such tribal affiliations? I come from a trade union background and I remember Tom Mboya’s idea 30 years ago that civil society organisations, including trade unions, could cut across such affiliations. That is true also in Pakistan. Is that not a further example of how Her Majesty's Government could encourage such a process in those organisations and in business?
Finally, on electoral monitoring I took part in EU electoral monitoring in the Congo. One did compare notes on what the results looked like and how they were added up in village schools and in telephone booths around the country. If it is as clear as it appears to be that there was fraud in the counting of the aggregates in Kenya, the EU should not mince words in its report on what happened.
My Lords, I confirm my noble friend’s observation about the power of civil society to cross over ethnic boundaries and build a real national consciousness. That is true of both countries and we will encourage it. In addition to the groups he mentioned, I did not respond earlier to the point about business in Kenya. There have been extensive contacts through our high commissioner in Nairobi with the business community, both British and Kenyan. There has been a lot of support from that community, as there has been from other groups in civil society, for an initiative to ensure real power sharing and real change in the country. That is the view of civil society groups in both countries—businesses, trade unions, lawyers and social activists of all kinds.
Let me make a further point on whether it would be possible in Kenya to assemble or reconstitute a vote count based on rural numbers. It may or may not be possible but we are doubtful about it. In addition to the destruction of some ballots, meaning that only an indicative total would be available, which would not provide the proof of the actual ballots, in some areas observers from one side were not able to attend the election count because they were kept out by the other side. Therefore, we do not have a completely valid rural count on which to reaggregate a national total, but I think that this will be something for President Kufuor to look at.
My Lords, notwithstanding the huge admiration that we all have for the achievements that have been made in Kenya, does the Minister agree that its winner-takes-all political system has often been mired in corruption, favouritism and tribal ethnicity—something to which he referred? As a result, deep-seated injustices have existed for far too long in places such as Kibera—Africa’s biggest sprawling shanty town, which the Prime Minister visited in his previous capacity as Chancellor of the Exchequer. Does the noble Lord agree that the violence that has come out of Kibera has been particularly stark and that it demonstrates the need for us to do more to tackle the injustices that continue in places such as that?
Did the Minister also note that earlier today the World Food Programme reported that a convoy of 20 trucks had left Nairobi for the Northern Rift Valley and that another had left Eldoret for Kisumu loaded with 670 metric tonnes—enough for 70,000 people for two weeks? However, 100,000 people are displaced in the Northern Rift Valley alone, and the World Food Programme is using stocks from programmes meant for the 700,000 people affected by the recent drought, the 1.1 million children in 3,800 schools that were previously looked after, and HIV/AIDS projects. Therefore, this is borrowed food that will have to be repaid. Is that something that the Government would feel in a position to help with?
My Lords, first, I think that many of us who know Kenya well and admire it would say that its economic success over recent decades has been despite, and not because of, its Government. It is an example of a country where, despite weak and corrupt government over many years, a vibrant private sector, blessed by the geographic location and natural wealth of the country, has overcome the limitations of that government. Therefore, it is even more tragic that these political confrontations should now undermine that economic success story, in which impressive results have been delivered over the past few years. It simply exposes the underlying issue that a way has to be found of ensuring government of all Kenyans for all Kenyans by all Kenyans. That has eluded the country since independence, except for a brief period in 2002.
Secondly, on food aid, this Government have been taking a lead in developing emergency procedures at the UN which allow money to be put forward both for buying new food aid when it is needed and, as in this case, replacing food aid if it is transferred to other and unexpected purposes. However, if the WFP and others appeal for more resources, I can assure the House that we will be ready to respond.
My Lords, perhaps I may make two points regarding Kenya. I do so from a position slightly further away than that of the noble Lord, Lord Avebury. Last night I spoke to my daughter, who has lived in Nairobi for 10 years. Two of her comments struck me quite forcefully and I wonder whether the Minister would care to remark on them.
First, one problem with the distribution of food is that it is extremely patchy, but my daughter said that there has been absolutely no problem in the area in which she lives. One day they were short of fresh milk, which is not a great deprivation. She explained that the problem is that the road blocks that have been set up to prevent civil disorder have in turn prevented the distribution of food because the drivers and their employers are not prepared to send the trucks through.
The other point on which I should also appreciate the Minister’s comments concerns the media. I have always been in favour of a free media to the maximum possible extent but, to use a slightly difficult word, they are by definition ghouls. The media, particularly television, like to go for the sort of pictures that make the best copy. I was just as horrified as anyone else, if not more so, by the appalling pictures that we saw on television, but they portrayed very much a minority in Kenya.
My Lords, I think that the noble Lord would agree that both the issues he raises—the road blocks preventing food distribution and the pictures particularly of the terrible massacre in the Eldoret church—are reflections of what we hope is a short-term phenomenon in Kenya. They bring back our attention to the fact that the mediator’s first priority is to stop the violence in order to allow a negotiation over the elections, the government and the country’s future. While this violence continues and the humanitarian crisis worsens there will be neither the trust nor the stability to allow a medium and long-term solution to be found. Kenya is such a jewel that the sooner we can return it to a situation where it can seek out its own destiny and once more be a place of economic growth and opportunity for its people, the better it will be for everyone involved.