The West paid little attention to repression in Nigeria until last years execution of Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight other human rights activists. About Liberia, former Secretary of State George Shultz said, By the time African crises receive this level of outside attention, the moment of averting catastrophe or sealing the peace has all too often passed.
Kenya, which will hold key elections in the next 18 months, could well be the next place where international laissez-faireism toward Africa comes to a boil. While Kenya has often been portrayed as Africas most democratic country, human rights groups paint a less-rosy picture.
For example, Amnesty International reported recently that prisoner of conscience Koigi Wa Wamire was sentenced to four years in prison and six cane strokes on trumped-up charges of robbery with violencean accusation that usually carries the death penalty. Foreign Minister Robert Ouko and 28 others were brutally murdered in 1990. His brother Barak Mbajah, a political exile, decried the lack of outside support for human rightsespecially from the U.S. government which, he said, waits until things fall apart.
Kenyas 1992 election, touted by the government as the countrys first free vote, was widely dismissed as fraudulent by outside observers including then-U.S. Ambassador Smith Hempstone. President Daniel Arap Moi, in power since 1978, swore he would never agree to multiparty politics.