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Kenya: Causes and Solutions

AfricaFocus Bulletin
Jan 8, 2008 (080108)
(Reposted from sources cited below)

Editor's Note

"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."

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 http://www.africafocus.org/plus/search1.php

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..

Editor's Choice
Recommended Books on Kenya (last updated January 2008)

Kenya Today

B. A. Badejo, Raila Odinga: An Enigma in Kenyan Politics, 2006. (check prices at Powell's Books or Amazon)

Godwin Murunga and Shadrack Nasong'o, Kenya: The Struggle for Democracy, 2007. (check prices at Powell's Books or Amazon)

Ngugi wa Thiong'o, Wizard of the Crow, 2007. (check prices at Powell's Books or Amazon)

New Insights from History

David Anderson, Histories of the Hanged: Britain's Dirty War in Kenya and the End of Empire, 2005. (check prices at Powell's Books or Amazon)

Caroline Elkins, Imperial Reckoning: The Untold Story of Britain's Gulag in Kenya, 2004. (check prices at Powell's Books or Amazon)

Angelique Haugerud, The Culture of Politics in Modern Kenya, 1997. (check prices at Powell's Books or Amazon)

Wangari Maathai, Unbowed: A Memoir, 2007. (check prices at Powell's Books or Amazon)

E. S. Odhiambo, Mau Mau and Nationhood: Arms, Authority, and Narration, 2003. (check prices at Powell's Books or Amazon)

Koigi wa Wamwere, I Refuse to Die: My Journey for Freedom, 2003. (check prices at Powell's Books or Amazon)

++++++++++++++++++++++end editor's note+++++++++++++++++++++++

It is the Kenyan People Who Have Lost the Election

Firoze Manji

Pambazuka News 334, January 3, 2008

http://www.pambazuka.org

[Firoze Manji is co-editor of Pambazuka News and executive director of Fahamu].

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 place.

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 the elections?

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 alternative.

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 Political Class

http://zeleza.com

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 future. ...

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 countries.

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 parties.

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 the opposition.

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 after independence.

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 candidates.

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 frustrations. ...

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 presidential election.

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 future.

... 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 Kibaki's administration.

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 structural maladjustment.

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 paradigmatic.

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

http://www.pambazuka.org

[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 before.

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 ballot.

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.


AfricaFocus Bulletin is an independent electronic publication providing reposted commentary and analysis on African issues, with a particular focus on U.S. and international policies. AfricaFocus Bulletin is edited by William Minter.

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