Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Kenya: The Way Forward! Is this It?

Below is an extract of a full report by African Policy Institute on the Kenyan election and ensuing mayhem and violence: Breaking Kenya’s Impasse: Chaos or Courts? It confirms what this blog (below) has advocated as the only viable way out of the political and democratic impasse in the country.
Here is their conclusion. But you can get the full text of the report here.

Kenya is facing perhaps the most profound test of its stability and institutions as it moves into its fifth election cycle. The 2007 election has ended in a dispute. The role of international mediators and wellwishers like Desmond Tutu, John Kufor and Kofi Annan who have played a pivotal role in trying to break the impasse and normalize the situation, but the crisis persists. But while their role is a welcome gesture of good will to the people of Kenya, overstretching mediation may permanently erode the credibility of Kenya’s established courts and other arbitration institutions which Kenya’s people have painfully nurtured for the last 44 years. What has come to be called the Kenyan crisis is a perfectly normal situation that from time to time confronts in democratic systems. It should never be likened to ‘political crises’ in other parts of Africa like Somalia or Darfur-although Kenya may get there if this is not addressed expediently.
Rather, what Kenya is witnessing is an election dispute like the one that engulfed America in 2000 when the Democratic and Republican party candidates disagreed on the process and results. While elders like Jimmy Carter and James Baker were called by both sides to cool tempers, all parties to the dispute were agreed that the court system—with all its faults, including partisan and ideological interests--was the way to go. Kenya will have many more disputed elections 200 years today. No matter how compromised the court system may be, it is still the only credible and sustainable arbitration mechanisms open to, and ever invested by, civilized societies.
Kenya needs the courts to suggest the way forward, not mediators to broker transient deals and power pacts among powerful elites. Certainly, chaos in all its guises is never the way out. Kenya must now return to reason. The opposition should stop all its mass action because it can only produce another disputed, and possibly dictatorial, regime. The government should guarantee that the dispute will be dealt with within reasonable time—no more than three months. It might be necessary to call in judges from other commonwealth countries to provide the necessary neutrality and restore the confidence of the parties to the dispute in the courts. Finally, all parties must be prepared to honor the final verdict of the courts: a recount, a re-run, or a victory of either of the parties.
The role of the court should be supported by national mediators and the media who have to do the spade work in reconciling communities torn by violent conflict and calming the nation. The national healing process must of necessity involve the resuscitation of Kenya’s multi-ethnic vision based on civic rather than ethnic citizenship, sanctity of law and public order and the courts as the supreme arbiter in all disputes, including election ones.


Mohamed said...

I read the report and had high hopes that this would be a credible analysis that would form the basis of an informed 'way forward'...until I found the report quoting the daily nation website figures on the 'over100%' turn out. Everyone, including the nation accepted that this was typing error...why re-use it in an otherwise well written report. The use of this false data dents the credibility of your analysis. I am disappointed.


Opposition leader Raila Odinga is a man who likes many things. He likes big cars, and flashy clothes. He likes to talk politics, he loves fame. He loves propaganda and more than anything he loves cameras. That I suppose is alright, to each his own. But the ODM leader also loves anarchy and has an exaggerated passion for destruction, if he cannot have it, no one else will.

November last year, Raila Odinga kicked off a campaign telling his dangerously over-zealous supporters that Mwai Kibaki's government was intent on rigging the December elections. He talked of some rigging clerks being trained at Anniversary Towers' (fourteenth floor) by an imaginary man he assigned the name ‘Mr. Chege". A few weeks later, he stormed the Ngong Hills hotel claiming to have received a tip-off from an aide of his that ballot papers were being filled in there. On the Election Day itself, he stormed the Electoral Commission's offices claiming that his name was not on the Lang'ata Constituency voter register. All these little sideshows had two things in common; one, they were all proved to be unfounded and two, all the allegations were made in the presence of the press, under flashing lights and into microphone booms.

All these cleverly calculated theatrics were to tune the minds of his excitable supporters just right, so that when defeat eventually came, they would have in their crania 'sound reasons' for doing what perhaps comes to them most naturally - going on the rampage. I am not in any way suggesting that ODM members do not believe the election was stolen and are engaging in violence for the sake it, no. I know they believe the election was rigged because they had been all set and prepared for it. The truth of the matter is that, with or without rigging the only outcome that would have saved Kenya from this violence was a victory for Raila Odinga. That is how much Raila Odinga likes violence, and his history stretching way back to the coup attempt he so glibly boasts about in his biography affirms just that.

But there is something else, besides violence that Raila Odinga appears keen to adopt; a false sense of importance. Displaying pictures taken with Barrack Obama to the press, claiming before the world that Barrack is his cousin are some of the more dramatic and vicariously humiliating scenes we have been subjected to.

Last year Raila likened himself to former South African President Nelson Mandela and believe it or not he also said he was like the Christ. This weekend he was in church once again calling himself Jesus Christ. He considers Kalonzo Musyoka a Judas Iscariot who cannot chair a session where "Jesus and his ‘pentagon' disciples are contributors". If you cannot attend a meeting chaired by the Vice President, then whose meeting can you attend? Since when did Kalonzo, the second longest serving elected Member of Parliament after the president become a disciple of Raila Odinga's and therefore in refusing to follow his every footstep a betrayer?

The ODM MP really needs to improve himself, to stop being that tyrant who cannot contemplate that others have wills of their own, that they are individuals with autonomous desires, with their constituencies that they serve, and outside of his control. Raila must now stop protecting his sense of omnipotence from the fear and vulnerability which surely rest at the heart of his compensatory delusions. He should start acknowledging others, and respecting them before he can himself command any such acknowledgement and respect. He has to respect authority. Calling ECK Commissioners "a few clerks seated at KICC" is not smart, it is not witty. It is ridiculous.

On Tuesday, during the election of the National Assembly Speaker, Mwai Kibaki reportedly did not speak to Raila. After the session, Raila does what he knows best---Rush to ‘The Standard'. He said that the President didn't even "greet him because he lacked the courage to do so". Who between Mwai Kibaki and Raila Odinga should be striving to shake the other's hand? It reminds me of a little story Dr. Justin Frank gives in his "Bush on the couch". Frank talks about this little niece of his who was once in a hotel lobby where President Ronald Reagan was staying. The President picked up the little girl for the cameras and then put her down. Her mother asked her whether she knew who that was. She answered; "Yes, but how did he know who I was?" Now that is what I call an extreme form of self-love and importance that Raila Odinga is thriving on.

Mr. Raila there were so many other Members of Parliament whom the President did not talk to. Why should you try to make it a big deal? Who do you think you are, Mr. Raila?