[INTERVIEW] Constitutional changes in Kenya are a good example for reforms in BiH
The election week in Kenya was full of shocking events, more people died due to dissatisfaction with election result
After proclamation of the result of the Presidential elections in Kenya, namely, that the so-far state President Uhuru Kenyatta had won the elections, conflicts between the opposition protesters and the peace corps continued yesterday; more people died. The Member of the European Parliament from Croatia Željana Zovko has just returned from Kenya, where she was a member of the European Parliament’s Election Observation Delegation.
Was the situation really dramatic when you were in the observation mission?
- The situation was very tense before the proclamation of the election result. It got worse after Kenyatta’s victory had been confirmed.
What is actually the main problem in Kenya, which was reflected in the elections?
- Kenya is one of the largest democracies in that part of Africa, where elections are held in a proper way, regardless of everything. I have to commend the state authorities, as well as the Kenyan citizens for organisation and implementation of the elections and also for coming out to cast their vote. I also must say that some European countries may envy the Kenyans for that. However, on the other hand, there are two conflicted sides – members of two largest tribes, one of which puts Kenyatti as a Presidential candidate, who is the third President from the ruling family and another one candidates Odinga, who is the President of the opposition party from another large dynasty, striving hard to overtake the throne. He simply may not accept the fact that he keeps losing the elections. That was the main reason for huge conflicts and protests in 2007, when 1,000 people died. That is when the international community got involved, a new Constitution was adopted and the country was decentralised and frustration of two conflicting tribes reduced. Those are not the only tribes existing in Kenya, but they are the most numerous.
Were the elections in Kenya held in a proper way?
- I may confirm that the elections were well organized and perfectly implemented in technical terms, from the moment of opening the polls until closing of the ballot boxes.
You met the former US State Secretary John Kerry in Kenya, together with David McAllister. Which topics did you touch upon in your conversation?
- Mr. Kerry was the head of the international observer delegation from Carter Institute and he was drawing huge attention. We had a short conversation with him. He expressed his satisfaction that we were European Parliament observers.
You mentioned two main Kenyan tribes. Are the problems of Kenya and the situation in that African country comparable with the situation in the Balkans, BiH?
- They certainly are. One EU observer, who was a special deputy for South-Eastern Europe, told us that he was often mentioning to the Kenyan authorities that they reminded him of BiH and their answer was always the same: Are we really as bad? To sum it up, ethnical divisions and frustrations affect the overall situation in any society, be it Kenya or BiH.
BiH has hard time with its accession path to the EU and with implementation of reforms. What are the expectations?
- I hope that BiH will become a candidate country before the end of the year, after the questionnaire is timely delivered and decisions taken by the European institutions. We shall as the EP members do our best to enable BiH to get the status of a candidate country, because the only alternative to continuous work and progress is creation of tensions, which is always followed by outflow of young, clever people from the country, thus creating long-term problems for the country. Having that in mind, it is of uttermost importance for BiH to change its Election Law and its Constitution. The example of Kenya shows that after huge conflicts, in which more than 1,000 people were killed and 100,000 exiled, a compromise is still possible, with a more decentralised country after constitutional changes and regional governors entrusted with higher authorities. The international community is aware that not only the state President is important, but also the regional representatives. The balance established in that way reduced the tensions.
Is it true that you are lobbying only for the BiH Croats in the European Parliament?
- Absolutely not.
What is true then?
- I entered the European Parliament as a member from Croatia. The electoral programme of HDZ pursues equality of BiH Croats and the European path of BiH. Before I joined the EP, Plenković, Stier and Šujica had been dealing with these issues. I was recognized in the EP as a Croat from BiH, who won the largest number of preferential votes from this country. Eventually, I would like to point out that HDZ Croatia has always had a positive attitude to the entire region, not only BiH, because its stability means stability of the Republic of Croatia.
The Pelješac Bridge emerged once again as an issue, brought up by the Bosniak authorities. Can you comment?
- The Pelješac Bridge is an absolutely positive solution for both Croatia and BiH. This is such an expensive investment, because its dimensions were increased according to BiH demand in order to enable the highest boats to sail into the Neum Bay. This is one of the most expensive projects of the European Union and the Republic of Croatia. The current arguments presented by Sarajevo, after the agreement on construction has already been signed with the EU and after Croatia satisfied the BiH demand in favour of BiH are simply unacceptable. Those are classic political intrigues and pre-election campaign. The Bridge shall ease the traffic, primarily for the people in Neum. This is about inventing problems, the same happened with Sutorina and Montenegro. The politicians should rather channel their efforts to the issue of translating the EU questionnaire.
By Zoran Krešić