Friday, January 25, 2008

Where is Kenya headed?

Kenya is bleeding and may soon be branded a "failed state" joining the ranks of Zimbabwe, Pakistan, Somalia, and Lebanon. Reconciliation efforts by Bishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa, President John Kufuor of Ghana, President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, Graca Machel (wife of Nelson Mandela), Benjamin Mkapa (former President of Tanzania), Kofi Anan (former Secretary General of the UN), representatives from the US, UK, EU, and many other mindful negotiators seem to have failed as it has almost become impossible for the opposing sides to achieve an everlasting solution to arrest the situation once and for all.
The opposition Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) headed by Raila Odinga has categorically rejected the Presidency of Mwai Kibaki accusing him and his Party of National Unity (PNU) of stealing the elections, an accusation shared by many governments, think tanks, and wide-eyed democratic institutions who have been following the unfolding of events from scratch. The number of the dead is skyrocketing, destruction of property is estimated in the billions, flight of foreign investors is on the rise, businesses have halted operations for fear of retribution with new battlefronts opening everyday in new localities. The illegitimate government's security apparatus which is party to the chaos is being accused of using excessive force to quell peaceful demonstrations by ODM supporters. On the other hand, the failure of the police to keep law and order and the intensity of crime has forced the otiose government to test the army by deploying it in areas of concern populated by opposition supporters.
The political scenario in Kenya has become a protracted headache for the international community such that the warring parties' refusal to a dialogue may plunge the country into a state of disorder and political intolerance reminiscent of the Rwanda genocide of 1994 in which majority Hutu massacred close to a million minority Tutsi.
Mwai Kibaki and Raila Odinga, as a gesture goodwill and as assurance of reconciliation, and as if giving peace a chance to flourish, and for that matter, as an end to the power struggle, shook hands in full view of the world media, yet, the immediate escalation of hostilities meted on Nakuru, a town that is the breadbasket of the nation and a center of tourist attraction, is what a pacifist would describe as leadership dishonesty and utterly outrageous.
Odinga Oginga, Raila's father, who served under President Jomo Kenyatta as Kenya's first Vice President, was politically manhandled under the Kenyatta and Moi leaderships and thus departed the world in 1994 rejected and humiliated without achieving his political dreams. On the other hand, his son, Raila, who is in the midst of the current power struggle, was a victim of detention without trial having lagged behind bars during Moi's rule in some of the most dehumanizing prisons notably Kamiti Maximum Prison .
Raila has flouted the idea of a transitional government and the holding of Presidential elections in three months while Mwai Kibaki who is obsessed with the Presidency and who is known for taking everything for granted and "business as usual"-a phrase he has used since 2002, has categorically objected to such an idea instead proposing changes to the constitution so that Raila may be given the post of Prime Minister, a suggestion Raila rebuffed in the strongest terms.
International donors, disturbed by the state of events, have voiced concern and may sooner or later cut off Aid and put an end to funding state projects until a solution is found.
Finally, whatever the outcome of Kenya's post-election crisis may be, seeing the way peace has slipped out of the hands of a nation once dubbed as "Africa's model of democracy", Kenya, a land of opposing tribes and differing political ideas, must not be perceived as an eternal haven of peace for it is no different from any other African country and furthermore it is a nation that has lived with corruption since gaining indpendence from England in 1963 where past governments left a legacy of divide and rule-the cause of the current unresolved election standoff.

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