In a news story appearing in the Standard yesterday, the paper discusses in detail what it describes as tough times ahead in the coalition government.
The paper calls the coalition government an “unhappy marriage” and few will disagree with this description.
Like in real unhappy marriages, the objective is either to find solutions to issues causing the unhappiness or ways to end the relationship in an amicable manner such that the partners and their offspring remain friends and still caring about each other after the relationship ends.
That’s a tall order in real marriage break-ups as the parties are more likely to end up hating each other and becoming enemies than friends after the relationship ends.
In politics, and especially in this unhappy marriage between Kibaki and Raila, the question is not finding solutions to issues causing the unhappiness for the purpose of keeping the marriage intact.
Rather, the question is how does the partnership between Kibaki and Raila amicably end such that the two remain at least cordial to one another afterwards but more importantly, how do these two end the coalition relationship such that the country is not harmed in anyway following the end or break-up?
Purely from an objective point of view, there are several ways this can be done and to the satisfaction of everyone.
First, let the two principals and us all start from a point of optimism.
Mathira MP, Hon. Ephraim Maina, is quoted in the Standard story as saying he has great respect for the two leaders and is optimistic the two can successfully tackle any issue facing the coalition as they have in the past.
Coming from a person who also serves as the Chairman of the Central Kenya MPs caucus, this is a profound statement if anything because it confirms that contrary to many people’s presumption that Kikuyus are an inflexible lot who always only want what is in their selfish or tribal interest, there are also many leaders among them who are fair and objective.
If our country is to finally break from the past tribal based politics to a future where politics must be governed by what is right for the country, we need many, many more of the likes of Hon. Maina not just from Central—even though that is key, but many others from the rest of the country as well.
Second, it is a very well-known fact that the power of incumbency often tilts the scales in favor of the incumbent.
Although this is the second time in our country’s history we are holding elections without an incumbent seeking reelection, it is the first time we shall have them under the new political dispensation.
Common sense will dictate that someone stands to gain from some aspect of the power of incumbency and the same common sense points to whoever Kibaki prefers as his successor to be the person.
It would therefore surprise no one that the remaining term of Kibaki’s presidency and what he does shall be primarily focused in attempting to tilt the scales in favor of the person Kibaki prefers or otherwise against those he does not prefer or care to see succeed him.
Despite the natural temptation to do this, however, Kibaki has an obligation to remain neutral as president throughout the election period and I emphasize as president because it’s obvious he cannot remain so in his individual capacity.
The difference is, Kibaki cannot use or allow his office to be used and abused to influence the outcome of the elections or for the benefit of his individually preferred candidate, which there are already signs that is happening.
If he does so, he will not only be opening himself to open rebellion and rejection, he would surely sully the legacy he has done such a good job rehabilitating since 2007.
As his coalition partner and Prime Minister, Raila must on the other hand make sure Kibaki does not use or allow his office to be abused to influence the outcome of the elections or for the benefit of those Kibaki prefers to see succeed him.
This must be the case notwithstanding the fact Raila himself is a presidential candidate.
For those who think Raila cannot do both, you are mistaken because any good leader can do just that as the measure is doing what is good and in the interest of the whole country, not in self-interest.
Third, in light of the foregoing, the two leaders must agree and work only on items that are currently crucial and essential in moving the country forward as whole and defer the rest for the next president and government to tackle.
The Standard news story identified four areas believed to be most contentious as the coalition winds down and these are the date of the next election, the Devolution Bill, the composition of the Police Service Commission, and the Government’s position on the International Criminal Court process.
Let’s start with the easiest one and that is the government’s position on the ICC.
This should be simple and straight foward: COOPERATE!
What is so complicated about that and why should cooperating with the ICC be a contentious issue unless individuals in the government, not the government itself, don’t want the process to go forward or justice done for PEV?
Is there anyone really who can’t see what’s going on here with this and how that is not in the interest of our country but an effort to appease or protect the interest of a few individuals at the expense of PEV victims and the rest of the country?
When is it going to down on some people including even the mighty that the country is bigger than any one individual or combination of them regardless of how mighty and powerful they think they are?
As for the election date, the vast majority of Kenyans and one would say nearly all Kenyans want an election in December of this year.
The Constitutional Court gave Kibaki and Raila the option to agree on a date to dissolve the coalition which would trigger elections this year failure of which elections must be held in March unless the court is reversed on appeal.
Raila has indicated his willingness and readiness to agree to dissolve the coalition government in October so that elections can be held in December as everyone wishes.
The only person standing in the way of having elections in December is therefore Kibaki who should do the right thing and agree with Raila to dissolve the government in October so that we can have elections in December of this year, which is the people’s wish Kibaki must honor.
The election date is therefore a non-issue unless Kibaki wants to make it one for reasons others can only interpret to be an attempt to extend his term for nefarious reasons known only to him and his clique.
Regarding the Devolution Bill, if it were possible for Kibaki to put politics and ukabila aside and think only about the future of Kenya, he actually has an opportunity to shape the future of our country by his assent to this bill or, should he desire to have changes that conform to the same principle, namely, thinking the future of a united country first, I don’t see why he and Raila cannot agree on those changes to be made so that we can have a bill he can assent to passed.
Indeed, I agree with the president and those who argue that we cannot have a weakened presidency such that there is no appreciable difference between the president and governors and to the extent certain powers must be retained in the presidency and only delegated to the governors at the president’s discretion, that is something that makes sense and so much the better for the country.
As for appointing members of the Police Service Commission, this is a no brainer.
We already have precedent how this should be done under the new Kenya and that is the same way we selected our Chief Justice and other members of the Supreme Court, and to a lesser extent how we selected the AG and DPP.
Let’s utilize the same approach and everyone will be happy and satisfied as we were with those prior selections.
Anything less is an affront to the people of Kenya and flagrant abuse of the constitution we must nourish and help in its firm grounding.
Again, all other matters that don’t directly go to holding open and transparent elections this year or as the case may be, or not related to the immediate welfare of the country aught to be deferred for the next government to deal with.
The onus is on Kibaki to make sure we have an amicable end to the Grand Coalition, Raila is strategically there to make sure this happens.
In other words, the leadership and skills of these two men in whipping their minions and followers into doing what is right for the country is called upon at a moment of great need for the country and this is it–an amicable ending of the Grand Coalition and ensuring a smooth, peaceful transition to the new government of the Republic of Kenya following an open and transparent elections we must have in 2012 or March next year as the case may be.