Monday, March 19, 2012

Election Date: Kenyans Should Support Institutions not Individual Politicians

The announcement of general election date by the Independent Election and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has raised a lot of hue and cry from politicians. Those opposed to the date want to tell us that the IEBC is not independent. The Prime Minister Raila Odinga even attempted to trash the decision by the Court as illegal.  This is chilling as one recalls what happened after his insistence that the Courts were not independent in 2007/08 election conflict and therefore could not impartially arbitrate the dispute. This time round, Kenyans should support the decision made by the IEBC and the Courts and not what individual politicians guided by their political interests purport to say is the truth. Kenya can maintain peace only if the democratic institutions are given a chance to arbitrate legal issues politicians cannot agree upon.

The genesis of the current problem is the lack of agreement among the politicians on the date of the next general election. When the matter went to the courts, the constitutional court gave two scenarios. Firstly, it held that election can be within 60 days after the end of current parliament life 15 January 2013, and second, an earlier date upon agreement between the President and Prime Minister to dissolve the ruling coalition government. Immediately after the ruling the Prime Minister while he insinuated consultation could be held between him and the President publicly announced December 2012 as his preferred date. The President early this month came out publicly too and indicated that his preference is 2013 after the expiry of the life of the Parliament and in accordance with the ruling of the Constitutional Court.

Due to a lack of agreement between the two Principals, the dissolution of the coalition became moot. The intervention of the IEBC only gave operation to the decision of the Court. Reading malice and ill-motive in the actions of the IEBC is a recipe for chaos and politician should restrain themselves. The public too should not let political interests of politician lead the country into an emotional distrust of the country’s democratic institutions.

At the same time, this situation gives the electorate a golden opportunity to assess the leadership qualities of the politicians, especially, the aspiring presidential candidates. From their reactions to the issue at hand, one can clearly distinguish the level-headed rational and nationally out-looking ones from the wavering or 'watermelons' and the reckless firebrands who could ignite the country at any cost.  In the first category you find Musalia Mudavadi, Uhuru Kenyatta, Raphael Tuju, Mutava Musymi, George Saitoti, Eugene Wamalwa and Peter Kenneth. In the second category is the professional middle road man Kalonzo Musyoka and the last category Raila Odinga, William Ruto and Martha Karua.