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Saturday, February 16, 2008

Dear Hon. Kibaki, how would you like to be remembered? - Guest Post

Dear Honourable Mwai Kibaki:

There are various ways that you could be remembered when you have been laid to rest six feet under the earth. Among them, you could either be remembered as a person who let his country deteriorate towards a full blown Civil War. Or you could be remembered as a person who rescued the country that was on the brink of a Civil War. Between these two choices, how would you like to be remembered? What legacy do you want to leave behind? What kind of Kenya would you like your great-grand children to inherit?

Among the things that may contribute to your being remembered as a person who allowed his country to deteriorate towards a civil war are:

(a) despite disputed tallying of the presidential votes you still went ahead (with the blessing of the pressurised ECK Chairman) and declared yourself a head of state;

(b) on the day when the AU Chairman, President Kufuor, was due to arrive in Nairobi for mediation talks, you hurried towards naming your Vice President and the rest of the Cabinet;

(c) when Mr. Kufuor was just starting the mediation, you went ahead and swore-in your cabinet;

(d) when the former UN boss, Mr. Kofi Annan, was due to arrive in Nairobi, two of your top Ministers said publicly that your government did not invite him;

(e) when Mr. Annan was in the middle of mediation you took off to attend an AU conference in Addis Ababa (normally leaders who are abroad rush home during a crisis; in your case it was the opposite, you left home to rush abroad during a crisis);

(f) you continue along this path and refuse to a resolution.

On the one hand, some have suggested that the violence that started in the Rift Valley was pre-meditated by ODM. On the other hand, others have suggested that what seems to have been pre-meditated is a group of people that are close to you (friends, advisors, and political partners) decided well in advance that they wanted you to hold on to power whether PNU won the presidential election or not. Mr. Kibaki, is that a realistic possibility?

Time is of the essence. And unfortunately, it is not on our side as those around you would make you believe. So far 1,000 innocent people have been killed either by fellow citizens or the Police, thousands of homes have been torched, over 250,000 Kenyans have been displaced, tens of thousands live in refugee camps, the economy is in a shambles, Kenyans are driving fellow Kenyans out of cities and towns, etc. Please act, and act quickly, Mr. Kibaki.

Having said that, here is a list of only three things that you could do in order to be remembered as a person who rescued our nation from the brink of a civil war:

(a) take these mediation talks more seriously;

(b) take charge of the situation and not allow those around you to dictate on what you should do;

(c) decide on one of two things - either agree to a re-run of the Presidential elections, or go into a true power-sharing deal by allowing the amendment of the Constitution to create the position of Prime Minister, elected by Parliament and answerable to it as suggested by the distinguished thinker, Prof. Ali Mazrui. Some ministries (including Internal Security, and Justice & Constitutional Affairs) will be answerable to the Prime Minister, and some will be answerable to the President (including Defence and Foreign Affairs).

I believe the PM should always come from the party that holds the most number of seats, or the second most number of seats in situations where the party with the most seats won the Presidency. These changes of creating the PM's position, you are not doing them for yourself or for honourable Raila Odinga, but rather for a better political future of our nation. They will reduce the power of the President and will create more checks and balances in running the affairs of the nation. Mr. Kibaki, isn't this a good way of making the President more accountable and reducing the unlimited powers that the office currently holds?

And once the political compromise has been reached and parliament resumes, here is a list of things that should be the top priority:

1. The Judiciary needs to be strengthened and made independent. Starting with the current judges of the High Court, Court of Appeal and any new judges in the future, they should come before an all-party Judicial Parliamentary Committee (televised) to be grilled with questions before members finally vote for or against serving on the bench.

2. There should be a televised public inquiry lead by, e.g., the Kenya Human Rights Commission, that will look into what went wrong. Those identified as culprits either in vote tallying, killings, and torching of homes and other properties should be brought to justice. Victims (or their families) should be compensated.

3. Ensure that those who have been displaced and driven out of their homes are sent back to their homes.

4. Ensure that those whose homes have been destroyed are financially compensated to build new homes.

5. Deal with the problem of poverty head-on, by starting to build proper homes for those who live in slums in places like Kibera and Mathare.

6. Set up an independent Land Reform and Reconciliation Commission that will deal with all land disputes in the country, district by district, starting with the Rift Valley and the Coast.

7. There should be zero tolerance to Corruption, Discrimination, and Religious bigotry. Any civil servant found engaging in any of these crimes should be sacked and prosecuted, including Cabinet Ministers and Judges.

Please make the first step for the sake of our nation, and it is my hope that honourable Raila Odinga will meet you half way.

Mr. Kibaki, this is a defining moment in the history of our nation. Will you not like to be remembered as a hero of this moment? Will you rise up to the occasion and meet the above challenges, and protect our country from degenerating into a Civil War and added to the infamous list of failed states in Africa?

Yours sincerely,

Muhammad bin Yusuf

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It was under his watch that this country almost went to civil war.The president should soberly strive to leave a good legacy.