KAGOCHI: Proposal for recognition of opposition will end animosity

Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta (L) greets opposition leader Raila Odinga of the National Super Alliance (NASA) coalition after addressing a news conference at the Harambee house office in Nairobi, Kenya March 9, 2018. REUTERS
Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta (L) greets opposition leader Raila Odinga of the National Super Alliance (NASA) coalition after addressing a news conference at the Harambee house office in Nairobi, Kenya March 9, 2018. REUTERS

The calls for inclusivity in government have intensified since the

March 9

handshake.

Many are in agreement that relations among various ethnic communities in Kenya have been characterised by deep animosity and suspicion, which heighten during elections.

This is largely because individuals hailing from a few ethnic communities dominate the political structures and economic resources of the country, to the exclusion of other communities.

The situation is made worse by the tendency of those in authority to use the State apparatus to economically benefit themselves, their kin, their friends and regions.

This exclusion was exacerbated as the country increasingly became centralised, contributing to intermittent conflicts, which often occur following general elections, the worst being the 2007 post-election violence.
It is this situation that the Building Bridges Initiative, the brainchild of President Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga, seeks to rectify.

For its part, ODM has amplified its call for constitutional amendments to create the position of Prime Minister and two deputies to ensure inclusivity in government.

The Raila-led party believes the creation of the post would end the perennial post-election tension that often leads to death and destruction of property.

The Orange party blames the winner-take- all and the loser leaves hungry and disenfranchised system as the baton that sparks the violence every electoral circle.

Indeed, Raila has repeatedly expressed his disgust at the fact that nine years after the promulgation of the Constitution in 2010, the laws have failed to ensure unity of Kenyans, equity and tame corruption.

His remedy for this malady is the establishment of a three-tier government.

Another school of thought associated with the President is equally rooting for a referendum to bring back the position of the Prime Minister and deputies, with an aim of having Uhuru occupy the post.

This group does not want the President to retire from politics after his second term ends in 2022 and has even suggested constitutional change to remove the presidential term limit.

The third force comprises those allied to Deputy President William Ruto, who have made it clear they will not support any attempt to amend the Constitution to create new positions in the Executive.

This group, as DP Ruto pointed out in his lecture at Chatham House in London, proposes the creation and recognition of the Official Opposition in Parliament.

They aver the current formulation undermines Executive accountability and saddled “our democracy with a headless, incoherent and dysfunctional opposition.”

To tame the winner-take-all formation, and therefore allow the opposition to actively take part in the running of the country, the Ruto group is proposing an ambitious reconfiguration of the government to comprise the national executive and the official opposition.

From the foregoing, it is evident that a rational discourse on the mode of government Kenyans should adopt is taking place.

As Farmers Party, we too wish to add our voice in the matter as a national party that largely represents the interests of the farming community.

First, as pointed out by DP Ruto, one question that demands more attention is whether the country can afford to conduct a referendum, census and boundary review before the next polls.

Besides the large expense to be incurred in the three exercises, there is also another question as to whether they won’t lead to more ethnic animosity given their outcomes will not please all.

This issue needs serious rethinking to ensure the three exercises do not end up polarising the country along ethnic lines.

As Farmers Party, we believe the proposal mooted by Ruto for reconfiguration of the government to comprise the national executive and the official opposition is the best way forward.

This is because in any democratic contest, there is always a winner and a loser.

The maxim is for the winner to have his way and the loser to have his say.

The winner is expected to implement his vision as stipulated in his party’s manifesto, without distraction from a prime minister from a rival party.

It is important for the people who lose elections recognise that they lost fair and square and to convey that truth to their supporters.

That is what Uhuru did in 2002 when he lost the presidential race to Mwai Kibaki, and partly explains why today

he is the head of state.

The writer is the Farmers party leader