Saturday, October 21, 2017

What leaders prescribe to end political crisis

President Uhuru Kenyatta inspects a guard of

President Uhuru Kenyatta inspects a guard of honour during Mashujaa Day celebrations at Uhuru Park on October 20, 2017. He has been asked to address the political crisis in the country. PHOTO | RAPHAEL NJOROGE  

By IBRAHIM ORUKO

The battle lines are drawn with President Uhuru Kenyatta on Friday laying down the law in no uncertain terms: Anyone who tries to disrupt Thursday’s presidential election will be dealt with firmly.

And Nasa’s Raila Odinga, who has withdrawn from the race, was also categorical: There will be no election on that day.

“For those who thrive in chaos and relish anarchy, your days are numbered; the law will take its course and sanction you accordingly,” the President warned in his Mashujaa Day speech in Nairobi.

ARMY
And speaking at a rally in Kisumu, Mr Odinga said: “There are several means of killing a cat. On October 25 I will tell you how to kill the cat.”

He claimed that the government had started deploying the police and military in Nyanza ahead of Thursday’s election.

“There will be no election on October 26,” he said.

The hard line position taken by the two leaders can only mean one thing: The next few days will be among the toughest in Kenya’s politics.

CHURCH LEADERS

But what options are available for Kenya regardless of the outcome of the October 26 election?

Is there something that can be done to heal the political rift in the both the short and long-term?

Anglican Church of Kenya Archbishop Jackson ole Sapit said the church has been spearheading talks between the President and Mr Odinga “because we want Kenyans to remain united”.

“Our intention, as the church, to call for dialogue is to see how the country can move forward to the next election,” the cleric said at Khwisero Secondary School in Kakamega County when he officially opened the girls’ dormitory.

INCLUSION
He said dialogue doesn’t necessarily call for sharing the government.

Meanwhile, Senior Counsel Nzamba Kitonga, one of the Kenyans who played a critical role in drafting the 2010 Constitution, says there is a way to ensure greater inclusion for all in national politics.

Mr Kitonga has proposed that the country should adopt the parliamentary system that his team had proposed before the draft Constitution was mutilated by MPs who reverted to a winner-takes-all presidential system.

Mr Kitonga, who chaired the Committee of Experts that birthed the 2010 Constitution, said the current political impasse can be attributed to the high-octane power struggle that rewards just a few.

“What we are seeing is a battle about inclusion and exclusion,” he said.

“We need to start having a discussion of the Harmonised Draft Constitution that proposed an inclusive system.”

POLL LOSERS
According to him, the draft had left options for public offices to be created to accommodate those who lost in presidential elections, including allowing them to run for MP or Senate so that they can play the role of Leader of Minority.

“Look at what we have now where a Leader of Minority in the Houses is not even a leader of a party. How does he or she whip members if he is not a leader of a party? We need to have that discussion,” he said.

His views closely mirror those of ODM leaders, including party chairman John Mbadi.

According to Mr Mbadi, the party is also keen on a parliamentary system because it provides more safeguards for inclusion.

“In a competitive society that has many ethnic communities, you need a government of inclusivity,” Mr Mbadi said.

“The presidential system breeds exclusivity if not properly managed, like is the case in Kenya.”

DIALOGUE
Lugari MP Ayub Savula of Nasa also weighed in, saying there was need to expand the size of the Cabinet.

“Other communities don’t feel part of this government. We need at least five senior positions at the top that will accommodate more communities to have an all-inclusive government and enhance cohesiveness,” Mr Savula said.

The Constitution allows a maximum of 22 Cabinet Secretaries.

The Federation of Kenya Employers (FKE) also believes that the only way out of the current political crisis is for both Jubilee and Nasa leaders to consider dialogue.

“We appeal for meaningful dialogue between Jubilee and Nasa in order to address issues before them for the country to come out of the current political quagmire.

"As a federation we believe that no matter is too big for the two to resolve if they engage in dialogue,” FKE Executive Director Jacqueline Mugo said.

ECONOMY
The federation said it has recorded 30 per cent decline in tourism business while economic growth has slowed down significantly.

The call for dialogue has been echoed by the Central Organisation of Trade Unions (Cotu).

Secretary-General Francis Atwoli urged President Kenyatta to reach out to Mr Odinga for talks in order to calm the current acts of violence in some parts of the country.

“We cannot be fighting forever while we have problems like unemployment that need urgent attention,” he said.

FAIR ELECTION
On Thursday, lawyer Kamotho Waiganjo had supported calls for dialogue among the main political actors, saying it will help lower the political temperatures.

He however warned that such discussions should not violate the provisions of the Constitution.

“It is good for the political leaders to keep talking because such talks reminds their supporters that stakes are not that high and helps keep the temperatures low,” he said in a television interview.

However, nominated Jubilee MP David Sankok said the only way out of the crisis is to ensure the fresh presidential election is held as ordered by the Supreme Court.

Kajiado Governor Joseph ole Lenku said: “First we must get a legitimate government. Then that government seeks to heal the divisions after the elections.”

Additional reporting Patrick Lang’at and Shaban Makokha

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