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Kenya: Causes and Solutions
Jan 8, 2008 (080108)
(Reposted from sources cited below)
"It is the Kenyan People Who Have Lost the Election," headlined
Pambazuka News in its special Kenya election edition on January 3.
"But the real tragedy of Kenya," the editorial continued, is that
the political conflict is not about alternative political
programmes that could address ... landlessness, low wages,
unemployment, lack of shelter, inadequate incomes, homelessness,
etc. ... [instead] it boils down to a fight over who has access to
the honey pot that is the state. ...[citizens] are reduced to being
just being fodder for the pigs fighting over the trough."
++++++++++++++++++++++end editor's note+++++++++++++++++++++++
Pambazuka News, which has been publishing a wide variety of
commentary and analysis on Kenya in its regular bulletin
(http://www.pambazuka.org) has also established a page for more
frequent updates at http://www.pambazuka.org/actionalerts
This AfricaFocus Bulletin contains excerpts from several
commentaries, from Pambazuka and other sources. Given the volume of
commentary, only highlights of each piece are included, and the email
version of this AfricaFocus Bulletin is more abbreviated than
the web version, available at http://www.africafocus.org/docs08/ken0801.php
In addition to Pambazuka News, additional news on Kenya is
available through http://www.africafocus.org/country/kenya.php, and
additional analysis from a variety of sites can be located through
the AfricaFocus Plus search at
Another AfricaFocus Bulletin sent out today provides a still
relevant analysis of the negative role played by stereotypes about
"tribe," reposting the Africa Policy Information Center policy
paper "Talking about 'Tribe'."
Commentaries of particular interest from the U.S., not excerpted
here, include an op-ed in the Washington Post by Caroline Elkins,
"What's Tearing Kenya Apart? History, for One Thing" (available at
http://tinyurl.com/2ensxw), a statement by Africa Action stating
that U.S.-Kenya policy should support "robust democratic processes"
rather than be defined by "a narrow agenda of the war on terror and
international business" (http://www.africaaction.org), and a statement by the Association of
Concerned Africa Scholars (available soon on
http://www.concernedafricascholars.org) highlighting "the role of
the U.S. government--far from a neutral player--both before and
after the elections" and the danger that U.S. involvement will be
biased by its close military relations with the Kenyan government..
Recommended Books on Kenya (last updated January 2008)
B. A. Badejo,
Raila Odinga: An Enigma in Kenyan Politics, 2006.
(check prices at
Powell's Books or
Godwin Murunga and Shadrack Nasong'o,
Kenya: The Struggle for Democracy, 2007.
(check prices at
Powell's Books or
Ngugi wa Thiong'o,
Wizard of the Crow, 2007.
(check prices at
Powell's Books or
New Insights from History
Histories of the Hanged: Britain's Dirty War in Kenya and the End of Empire, 2005.
(check prices at
Powell's Books or
Imperial Reckoning: The Untold Story of Britain's Gulag in Kenya, 2004.
(check prices at
Powell's Books or
The Culture of Politics in Modern Kenya, 1997.
(check prices at
Powell's Books or
Unbowed: A Memoir, 2007.
(check prices at
Powell's Books or
E. S. Odhiambo,
Mau Mau and Nationhood: Arms, Authority, and Narration, 2003.
(check prices at
Powell's Books or
Koigi wa Wamwere,
I Refuse to Die: My Journey for Freedom, 2003.
(check prices at
Powell's Books or
It is the Kenyan People Who Have Lost the Election
Pambazuka News 334, January 3, 2008
[Firoze Manji is co-editor of Pambazuka News and executive director
Kenya is entering a protracted crisis. No one really knows who
actually won the presidential elections. Given the overwhelming
number of parliamentary seats won by the ODM and the dismissal of
some 20 former ministers who lost their seats, it seems likely that
the presidential results probably followed suit. But it is no
longer really a matter of who won or lost. For one thing is
certain: it is the Kenyan people who have lost in these elections.
That the elections results were rigged - of that there is little
doubt. The hasty inauguration, the blanket banning on the broadcast
media, the dispersal of security forces to deal with expected
protests - all these have given the post election period the
flavour of a coup d'etat. What was not expected was the speed with
which the whole thing would unravel. The declaration of the members
of the Electoral Commission that the results were indeed rigged
only added to the growing realisation that a coup had indeed taken
People across the country took to the streets to protest and were
met with disproportionate use of force by the police and GSU.
Emotions ran high. And there is evidence that politicians from all
sides used the occasion to instigate violent attacks against their
opponents' constituencies. There have been rapes, forced
circumcision and forced female genital mutilation. The western
media has been quick to describe these as 'ethnic clashes' - but
then they appear only to be able to see tribes whenever there are
conflicts in Africa. What is ignored by them is that the security
forces have been responsible for the majority of killings.
What we have in Kenya is a political crisis that could, descend
into civil war if the political crisis is not resolved soon. ...
But the real tragedy of Kenya is that the political conflict is not
about alternative political programmes that could address the long
standing grievances of the majority over landlessness, low wages,
unemployment, lack of shelter, inadequate incomes, homelessness,
etc. It is not about such heady aspirations.
No, it boils down to a fight over who has access to the honey pot
that is the state. For those in control of the state machinery are
free to fill their pockets. So the battle lines are reduced to
which group of people are going to be chosen to fill their pockets
- and citizens are left to decide perhaps that a few crumbs might
fall off the table in their direction.
And the electorate - the mass of citizens who have borne the brunt
of the recent violence and decades of prolonged disenfranchisement
from accessing the fruits of independence - are reduced to being
just being fodder for the pigs fighting over the trough.
The Kibaki regime seems unlikely to concede any space - for to do
so would confirm the suspicions of election theft. And the longer
that the current impasse continues, the more likely it is that
people will seek to vent their anger and frustration in senseless
violence - energy that could so easily be turned towards organising
to building a new world.
So what is going to be the way forward? Will there be an
independent inquiry into the election results? Into the violence
that has taken place? Will the contending parties agree to the
formation of an interim government that would oversee the re-run of
Whatever happens, the present crisis has demonstrated that there is
a serious lack of any formations that can articulate a coherent
political programme for social transformation. Politics will remain
forever about who gets access to the trough so long as there is no
This issue of Pambazuka News is dedicated to those who have paid
with their lives in this period of crisis.
The 2007 Kenyan Elections: Holding a Nation Hostage to a Bankrupt
December 31, 2007
Disputed results from last week's elections have left Kenya in deep
political crisis. The opposition has refused to accept the results
which have been questioned by local and international observers.
Three days of violent protests have left more than 120 people dead.
The battles are concentrated in opposition strongholds and shanty
neighborhoods in the major cities from the coastal city of Mombasa
to Nairobi the capital to Kisumu the western port city on the banks
of Lake Victoria where a curfew has been imposed. Live television
and radio broadcasts have been banned. While there is relief and
even celebration among some supporters of the 'victorious'
President Kibaki, the frustration and fear gripping the country is
almost unprecedented in forty four years of independence. A proud
country that likes to see itself as an oasis of stability in a
volatile region is being held hostage by a bankrupt political
class. Many Kenyans are filled with a sense of shame and anguish,
as well as fortitude to salvage their country's fortunes and
The opinion polls pointed to a close election. They were proved
right. But only one out of 50 polls conducted in the lead up to the
elections, showed President Kibaki in the lead; the rest pointed to
a possible narrow win by the opposition candidate, Mr. Raila
Odinga. The latter maintained his lead during the early counts of
the presidential vote, but when the final results were announced by
the Electoral Commission of Kenya, he trailed by 231,728 votes.
President Kibaki was declared duly elected with 4,584,721 votes
against Mr. Odinga's 4,352,993 votes. Election observers expressed
surprise, the opposition cried foul, riots erupted, and the country
teetered on the brink of an unprecedented crisis.
What a difference five years makes. In 2002 President Kibaki was
inaugurated in broad daylight before an ecstatic crowd of a million
people in Jamhuri Park in Nairobi; this time he was hurriedly
inaugurated in the evening less than an hour after being declared
winner before a small and dour crowd of officials. The intoxicating
euphoria of 2002 has given way to widespread anger and anxiety. In
2002 the masses brutalized by decades of one-party rule
rediscovered their voices and will; the nation was united in its
hopes for the future, believed fervently in the possibilities of
productive change. Now, many feel betrayed and disempowered, robbed
of their votes and voices.
Whatever the future holds for Kenya and its tortured journey from
dictatorship to democracy, underdevelopment to development, the
present crisis has a complicated history rooted in the political
economies of colonialism, neocolonialism, and neoliberalism that
have characterized Kenya over the last century. This is to suggest
that the present moment, the current political crisis, is rooted in
complex historical forces that go beyond the ubiquitous 'tribalism'
beloved by the western media in discussing African politics or
explaining its proverbial crises, or the excessive obsession with
personalities often found in the African media itself. This is of
course not to dismiss the role of ethnicity or particular leaders,
it is merely to point out the need to put both in the context of
broader historical forces that have propelled Kenya to this moment
and might impel it out of it.
The recent Kenyan elections promised to achieve an extraordinary
development: unseating an incumbent president through the ballot
box after only five years in power. This would have been
unprecedented in Kenyan history, and is rare in Africa where
incumbents typically serve the constitutional two terms and some
even try to rig their way into illicit third terms. ...
The manipulation of electoral processes and results by ruling
parties is of course not confined to Africa: remember the U.S.
elections of 2000, and President Putin's recent attempts to prolong
his rule? It is not uncommon for ruling parties in many so-called
mature democracies to call elections opportunistically, redraw
electoral districts in their favor, or 'bribe' the electorate with
contrived economic goodies. However, it can be argued the national
costs of electoral malpractices are much higher for African (and
other countries in the global South) that are struggling against
the challenges of internal underdevelopment and political and
cultural subordination than for the more globally hegemonic western
Save for the disputed victory for the president himself, the
government suffered a political tsunami as a score of cabinet
ministers and the Vice-President lost their parliamentary seats.
Altogether, the Party of National Unity (PNU), cobbled together
only last September, under which President Kibaki run, won only 37
seats, the victorious opposition party, Orange Democratic Movement
(ODM), led by Mr. Raila Odinga took 100 seats, and the rest
(parliament has 210 directly elected members) went to the Orange
Democratic Movement-Kenya (ODM-K), the party of the third major
presidential candidate, Mr. Kalonzo Musyoka, and other smaller
Swept away also were power brokers of the former dictator,
President Daniel arap Moi including the once feared Mr. Nicholas
Biwott and the tycoon Mr. Kamlesh Pattini an infamous architect of
one of Kenya's largest corruption scandals, as well as Mr. Moi's
own ambitious three sons. In a sense, the election signified a
rejection of leading politicians associated with Presidents Moi and
Kibaki. While the two represent different presidential
administrations, one dictatorial and the other democratic, they are
associated in the popular imagination, and were painted by the
opposition, as old men leading corrupt regimes. Remarkably, Mr. Moi
campaigned indefatigably for his successor, to the obvious glee of
Thus the contest between the octogerian Mr. Kibaki and the
flamboyant Mr. Odinga pitted a generational struggle for power. It
is one of the ironies of contemporary Africa that countries that
have enjoyed political stability since independence such as Kenya,
Malawi, and Senegal, are still ruled by the nationalist generation
that brought independence, while the countries with more turbulent
histories have long made the generational transition. In this
sense, the Kenyan election was a referendum between the older and
the younger generations, between the Kibaki generation in power
since independence and the Odinga generation that came off age
The first Kibaki government was elected in 2002 on a strong
anti-corruption platform. Impoverished and exhausted from 24 years
of authoritarian and corrupt rule by the Moi administration, the
country was hungry for a clean government that would bring to
justice corrupt former officials and lead a transparent and
accountable government capable of reviving the economy and pursuing
development. The drive against Moi-era corruption scandals not
only stalled, but new corruption scandals sprang up, and the new
administration's anti-corruption credentials were irreparably
damaged when the government's own anti-corruption czar, Mr. John
Githongo fled to exile in the United Kingdom in 2005.
But the Kibaki administration delivered on the economy. The
country's economic growth rate jumped from 0.6% in 2002 to 6.1% in
2006. Buoyed by this robust growth, the government unveiled its
ambitious Kenya Vision 2030, a development blueprint to turn Kenya
into a newly industrializing "middle income country providing high
quality of life for all its citizens by the year 2030." President
Kibaki and his PNU run on this economic record, while the
opposition claimed it could achieve even faster growth
unadulterated by corruption. One sought continuity, the other
promised change. In reality, there was little difference in the
programs of the PNU and ODM and their contending presidential
As is often the case in such contexts, the absence of policy
differences was more than made up by the personality and symbolic
differences of populism in which Mr. Odinga bested the president.
Mr. Odinga a millionaire businessman, who had once been a political
prisoner, and most importantly, was the son of the nationalist icon
and former vice-president, Mr. Oginga Odinga, campaigned vigorously
in his red hummer to achieve what had eluded his father. He
appealed to the youth and people from disaffected regions, while
assiduously assuring domestic and foreign business interests who
preferred the wealthy, elderly and gentlemanly President Kibaki
that he had long shed the socialist inclinations and firebrand
reputation of his younger days.
... Kenya's economic recovery and growth from 2002 largely
benefited the middle classes rather than the workers and peasants,
the bulk of the population. Even among the middle classes, the
benefits flowed unequally between those in the rapidly expanding
private service sectors rather than in the retrenched and
decapitalized public sectors, which has been under assault since
the days of structural adjustment in the 1980s.
For many Kenyans, therefore, the economy may be doing well, but
they are not. ... If the economic growth of recent years in Kenya
stoked expectations of development, the unequal distribution of
wealth thwarted those expectations and engendered popular
frustration, while democracy gave a new vent to express the
As we await a fuller breakdown of the elections results, it is
clear that many members of parliament lost elections in their
constituencies to competitors from their own ethnic groups. In such
cases, party allegiance, record of the incumbent, and personalities
all played a role. It is mostly in the large cities with their
ethnically diverse populations where ethnic consciousness could be
mobilized and the ethnic card played. In such contexts party
allegiance loomed exceptionally large as a proxy for ethnicity.
Only the president is subject to both local and national
constituencies, and hence the enhanced ethnicization of the
The complex interplay of local, regional, and national elections is
of course not confined to Kenya or Africa for that matter. Look at
voting patterns across Europe and North America and the different
regional strategies political parties tend to employ to appeal to
voters in various regions, not to mention the use of race. Nor is
the ethnicization of electoral politics a peculiar African
predilection. In no major western country has a black person ever
been elected president or prime minister. In the United States, few
blacks win state wide offices. Currently, there is only one black
governor out of 50, and one black senator out of 100 - the
charismatic Barack Obama, the half-Kenyan and half-Luo 2008 U.S.
presidential candidate. Yet, nobody labels electoral contests and
results in western Europe and North America as 'racial', let alone
'tribal'; they are given more dignified names.
Media reports on the Kenyan elections and especially reports of the
protests following the inauguration of President Kibaki almost
invariably include the word 'tribal'; the reference is to 'tribes'
and 'tribalism' as primordial identities untouched by history, as
ancient hatreds immune to modernity, as pathological conditions
peculiar to Africa. Forgotten is the simple fact that both Mr.
Kibaki and Mr. Odinga could not win the elections based on voting
from their so-called 'tribes'; two ethnic groups out of the
country's many ethnicities. While the presidential candidates
received overwhelming electoral support in their home provinces, to
win the presidency ethnic coalition building is essential, for the
president has to win at least 25 of the vote in at least five of
Kenya's eight provinces.
The ethnicization of politics in Kenya is not a reflection of some
atavistic reflex, or simply the result of elite political
manipulations or primordial cultural affectations among the masses,
even if the elites do indeed use ethnicity and the masses are
mobilized by it. It is salutary to remember that some of Kenya's
ethnic groups only emerged or developed their current identities
under British colonial rule. Few can trace themselves to the remote
past notwithstanding the work of some historians to distinguish
their ethnic communities with long and pristine pedigrees.
Imagined ethnic and national histories are of course not about the
past, but the present; they are part of the discursive and
political arsenal for claim making in the present and for the
... it is not the existence of ethnic groups (or racial groups)
that is a problem in itself, a predictor of social conviviality or
conflict, but their political mobilization.
Ethnicity in Kenya is tied in complex and contradictory ways to the
enduring legacies of uneven regional development. During colonial
rule Central Kenya, the homeland of the Kikuyu, became the
heartland of the settler economy, while Nyanza, the Luo homeland,
languished as a labor reserve that furnished both unskilled and
educated labor to the centers of colonial capitalism. Not
surprisingly, the Kikuyu bore the brunt of colonial capitalist
dispossession and socialization, and were in the vanguard of the
nationalist struggles that led to decolonization and they came to
dominate the postcolonial state and economy. Capitalist development
and centralization of power reinforced domination of the Kenyan
economy by the Central Province and the Kikuyu, a process that
withstood the twenty-four year reign of President Moi, a Kalenjin
from the Rift Valley, and was reinvigorated under President
Central Province and Kikuyu dominance of Kenya's political economy
bred resentment from other regions and ethnic groups. It fed into
constitutional debates about presidential and political
centralization of power, and the regional redistribution of
resources that dominated Kenyan politics until 2005 when the draft
constitution supported by the President and Parliament was rejected
in a referendum. The ODM was born in the highly politicized
maelstrom of the run up to the referendum.
This narrative tends to ignore an important qualifying fact, that
not all Kikuyus are dominant and not all Luos are disempowered.
Colonial, neo-colonial and neo-liberal capitalisms have bred class
differentiations within communities as much as they have led to
uneven development among regions. In other words, Kikuyu and Luo
elites have much more in common with each other than they do with
their co-ethnics among peasants and workers who also have more in
common with each other across ethnic boundaries than with their
respective elites. This is a reality that both the elites and the
masses strategically ignore during competitive national elections,
because the former need to mobilize and manipulate their ethnic
constituencies in intra-elite struggles for power, and the latter
because elections offer one of the few moments to shake the elites
for the crumbs of development for themselves and their areas.
Kenyan politics exhibits familiar African trends. The country
started its independence with a hurriedly negotiated multi-party
system between the nationalists and the departing imperial power
that could not withstand the homogenizing imperatives of
nationalism and the intoxicating and intolerant demands of uhuru:
nation-building, development, and democratization. Before long,
Kenya joined the African bandwagon towards the one-party state. It
became a de facto one-party state as the pre-independence
opposition party KADU folded voluntarily into the ruling KANU in
1964, while the post-independence radical Kenya People's Union
formed in 1966 by former vice-president Oginga Odinga, the father
of the ODM leader, was violently suppressed.
Kenya became a de jure one-party state under President Moi, who
took power in 1978 following the death of the founding President
Jomo Kenyatta, and was confronted by on the one hand the political
tensions engendered by the attempted coup of 1982, and on the other
a slowing economy that stagnated under the onerous weight of
structural adjustment programs imposed with market fundamentalist
zeal by the international financial institutions - the World Bank
and International Monetary Fund - and western governments. By the
end of the 1980s, it was clear that while the country remained
relatively stable in a tumultuous region its early promise had been
squandered under a reign of authoritarianism, corruption, and
As in much of Africa, from the late 1980s and throughout the 1990s,
the unproductive power of one-party rule faced growing popular
opposition. The struggles for the "second independence" by the
restive masses and organized civil society scored limited victories
in the 1992 and 1997 elections, and finally seized the prize in the
elections of December 2002 when the ruling party, KANU, lost to the
opposition National Rainbow Coalition (NARC). It was a new day:
democracy expanded as political and civil freedoms spread, so did
the economy as the stagnation of the Moi years receded, but the
social and structural deformities of the postcolony remained as
entrenched as ever. It is in this context that the current crisis
can best be understood.
The last five years have seen the growth of both democracy and the
economy, but the marriage between democracy and development remains
unfilled. The economic growth rates under President Kibaki resemble
those in the early post-independence years under President
Kenyatta. The difference is not only that neo-colonial capitalism
of the Kenyatta era, which had a nationalist face, has given way to
contemporary neo-liberal capitalism, which has a neo-colonial soul,
democracy has reconfigured old challenges and brought new ones that
the society and state have yet to manage satisfactorily as the
results of these elections amply demonstrate.
Examples abound that as the suffocating lid of state tyranny is
lifted during moments of democratic transition the suppressed
voices and expectations of civil society surge, but the stresses
and strains arising from the competitive grind of democracy often
find articulation in the entrenched identities, idioms, and
institutions of ethnic solidarity. The challenge in Kenya, as in
other divided multicultural societies, is the need to balance group
and national interests through further democratization, devolution
of power, and power sharing. In so far as ethnic interests and
cleavages are only one set among many other possible bases of
political contestation - class, religion, region, and gender that
often mediate and reinforce ethnic identities and antagonisms -
there is need to think about group interests beyond ethnicity.
The current trials and tribulations facing Kenya will not be
resolved without the emergence of a leadership that is truly up to
the challenge, a leadership that pursue a national project of
profound social transformation, that eschews narrow and
shortsighted exclusionary politics and neo-liberal economic growth.
Kenya, and Africa as a whole, have no historic alternative from
building truly democratic developmental states if they are to chart
the twentieth century more prepared and empowered than they did the
disastrous twentieth century marked by colonialism and
neo-colonialism and their depredations that were simultaneously
economic and existential, cultural and cognitive, political and
The current leadership, both the 'victors' and 'losers', seem keen
to retain or gain power at all costs. The power struggle is as
sinister as the differences among the leaders are small. But often
it is the very narcissism of minor differences that breeds
gratuitous violence and viciousness as histories of genocide
demonstrate. The leading politicians engaged in combat whose
followers are tearing their lovely country apart are members of the
same recycled political class committed to neo-liberal growth that
offer no real solutions to Kenya's enduring challenges of growth
and development, choiceless democracy and transformative democracy.
Most of the major figures in the three leading parties, PNU, ODM,
ODM-K, served in the Moi and Kibaki administrations at one time or
another. Their politics do not differ in any significant ways.
Indeed, it is a mark of the promiscuity of the political class that
the three parties were formed quite recently, and politicians shop
for parties with the consumer ease of well-heeled customers. In a
sense, then, their collective interests of the politicians and
national interests of the population are not coterminous, although
converges do exist and are invoked at certain moments. The
political animus between the Kibaki and Odinga camps is rooted in
the now infamous secretive Memorundum of Understanding on the
distribution of cabinet positions and power drawn up among the
opposition parties that hurriedly formed NARC to fight the ruling
party KANU in the 2002 elections. NARC was a marriage of
convenience for a splintered opposition determined to win that
failed to survive squabbles over the spoils of victory. Before
long, Mr. Odinga and his followers began complaining that Mr.
Kibaki had reneged on the MOU and thus began the slide to the
current political impasse and crisis.
President Kibaki's contested 'victory' has deprived the country of
the opportunity to see that the opposition offers little more than
a recycling of the same policies and politicians as has been
witnessed in other African countries that are now into their third
or fourth cycle of competitive multiparty elections. As this has
become evident the lure of elections as engines of fundamental
socioeconomic transformation has dimmed in many countries and the
search for new forms of politics is underway. In Kenya the disputed
results of this election may have done the same. Only time will
tell, perhaps long after the violence has subsided. What can be
predicted is that the Kibaki government will be paralyzed in the
new parliament, where it controls less than a fifth of the seats,
and might even be brought down by a vote of no confidence, although
the power of the government to secure or 'buy' support from
self-serving parliamentarians cannot be ruled out, as has happened
in Malawi and other countries where the President's party is in the
minority. And a popular uprising, or even an 'orange revolution',
can never be ruled out.
Kenya's current political tragedy is part of a much larger story.
The absence of articulated and organized institutional and
ideological alternatives under neoliberalism is at the heart of the
political crisis facing contemporary Africa and much of the world.
It has led, thus far, to the ossification of politics, and in some
countries, the premature abortion or aging of elections as
instruments of transformative change. The specter of choiceless
democracies is not confined to countries in the global South, for
in many parts of the global North including the United States the
ideological divide between the major parties is often
indecipherable, the result of which is political apathy as nearly
half the population has exited the electoral process. For more
fragile societies, the danger is not apathy, but anarchy. As a keen
observer of Kenya, a country where I spent many fruitful years
studying and teaching in the late 1970s and 1980s, I hope the
country can avoid such a fate. Perhaps the ferocity of the reaction
to the botched elections will serve as a wakeup call to the
political class and the troubled citizenry to chart a more
productive future for their beloved country. A good beginning would
be for the contending parties to agree to a binding independent and
internationally monitored investigation of the election results.
The Post-election Crisis in Kenya: in Search of Solutions
Ali A. Mazrui
[Ali Mazrui is Director, Institute of Global Cultural Studies,
Albert Schweitzer Professor in the Humanities, Binghamton
University, State University of New York at Binghamton, New York,
USA and Chancellor, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and
Technology, Thika and Nairobi Kenya]
[Additional note by editor:
President Kabaki and opposition leader Odinga are under increasing
pressure, both international and domestic, to negotiate to find a
solution that can curb the violence. Relief agencies are beginning
to bring in help for as many as 250,000 displaced people, as the
death toll from post-election violence has risen perhaps as high as
1,000. Still, it is clear that "talks" will only help if they allow
for a process for a credible examination of election fraud, and
that any "power-sharing" will break down if it is only a facade for
continuation of the status quo.
There are many proposals for compromise that could be pursued if
the political will to do so exists. Among them are the following
suggestions by leading Kenyan political analyst Ali Mazrui.]
The Kenya presidential elections of December 2007 are potentially
the most damaging episode to national unity since the assassination
of Tom Mboya in July 1969. Both the murder of Tom Mboya and the
management of the recent presidential elections are widely
interpreted as an attempt to ethnically monopolise the presidency
of the country. Both Mboya's assassination and the latest elections
are seen as historic blows to national stability and major setbacks
to the process of democratization. Both Mboya's murder and the 2007
elections unleashed widespread rioting and looting and made
national institutions significantly more fragile than they were
It is therefore imperative that Mwai Kibaki and Raila Odinga enter
into urgent negotiations to find a solution to this painful
impasse, and to help the process of national healing.
The ideal solution would be to agree to a recounting of votes in
the most controversial of the provincial results for the
presidency, and for both Kibaki and Odinga to commit themselves to
respect the outcome of the recounting.
Another possible solution would be for the African Union to appoint
an independent commission of enquiry into the management of the
presidential election, and make recommendations. One possible
recommendation would conceivably be to accept the parliamentary
results, which had, by most estimates, been transparent and
credible. But there might be new internationally supervised
presidential elections with the three main candidates on the new
The third option is probably the easiest to accomplish. The new
parliament should be sworn in, and called into session. Its first
task should be to consider a constitutional amendment creating the
post of Prime Minister answerable to Parliament and not to the
Chief Executive (the President). If the constitutional amendment is
passed, parliament would then vote for the first Prime Minister.
Considering the balance of political parties voted into the new
parliament, the new Prime Minister is almost bound to be the
Honorable Raila Odinga.
Kenya would thereby become something approximating the fifth
republic of France with both an executive President accountable to
the people, directly, and an executive Prime Minister accountable
to the people's legislative representatives, Parliament. As in the
case of the French Republic, the President (Mwai Kibaki) and the
Prime Minister (Raila Odinga) would have to find ways of working
together in the interest of the people of Kenya.
Who would appoint the members of the cabinet- the President or the
Prime Minister? The Foreign Minister and the Minister of Defense
could be the prerogative of the Head of State (Kibaki) to appoint.
But the Minister of Internal Security and almost all other
ministries would be appointed by the Prime Minister (Raila Odinga).
The precise division of labor and division of powers between the
new Prime Minister would have to be negotiated prior to the
constitutional amendment by new Parliament.
Later in the session of the new parliament there may be need to reexamine
the whole constitution of Kenya in the light of problems
which Kenya has had to face since the last constitutional
referendum. Should we re-examine once again the Maboma Draft
constructed by the Ghai Commission? Only the new parliament, in
consultation with the new President, can decide whether to have a
new constitutional referendum.
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