Serving abroad, we get both local and American holidays off from work, though knowing that some countries go a bit overboard with celebrations, the State Department caps the number of total holiday days per year at twenty.
Posts tagged ‘politics’
The Foreign Service roller-coaster tends to rush from one crisis to the next, the workload at times threatening to overwhelm before suddenly dissipating into a lull. With the electoral commission declaring a victor in last week’s presidential vote by the slimmest of margins, and his main rival vowing to fight the decision in court, we’ve had a chance to catch our breath and focus on other things for a change while the whole country awaits the outcome of the court case.
In the morning, a thick, billowing mist blanketed the densely forested slopes of Mt. Marsabit, the extinct shield volcano that lends its name to one of Kenya’s largest and most sparsely populated counties. The soupy fog completely enveloped the rustic cabins of Marsabit Lodge, obscuring from view the picturesque clearing on which it sits. The tepid early morning light struggled to fight its way through the brume, but still managed to rouse D from his deep Sunday morning slumber, the first night of real rest he had enjoyed in a week during which consecutive 12-hour workdays melded into a continuous, frantic rush of last-minute pre-election preparations.
We both volunteered to serve as observers for Kenya’s first presidential election under its new constitution. S was assigned to cover a county in western Kenya. Because D had organized a work trip to Kenya’s remote northern lands in December, the election team decided to send him to Marsabit, a grueling ten-hour drive from Nairobi.
Arriving Sunday night, mere hours before Kenyans headed to the polls to vote in a new government, our latest visitor had to wait several days to actually see us, as we both left Nairobi to serve as election observers. The last presidential election in 2007 set off a three-months long wave of violence that left more than a thousand Kenyans dead and displaced half a million others. Yet, while international NGOs relocated staff out of Kenya and the State Department put out travel warnings about the potential dangers of coming here, Chris – who is doing a one-month long cardiology rotation in Nairobi to cap off his residency – decided that this was an opportune time for a visit.
Last week Kenyans went to the polls in the country’s much anticipated political party primaries. The rapidly approaching March 4 general elections will be Kenya’s first since the disputed 2007 presidential election plunged the country into horrific ethnic violence, leaving over a thousand people dead and displacing half a million others. The primaries were viewed by many as an important litmus test, a gauge of Kenya’s preparedness for peaceful, democratic transition.