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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

If Kibaki is the problem, what is the solution?

By MUTAHI NGUNYI

Today I will break into the political "residence" of Martha Karua for fooling me last week. At first I sympathised with her resignation, then it stopped making sense.

More so after I summoned the evidence. For instance, she told us she is a reformer. Zero. She is actually a turncoat; a reformer of convenience. And her "reform story" is nothing. When it suits her, she is a reformer. When it does not, she is a hardliner. Until recently, she was a Kibaki hardliner. Then, out of ambition, she abandoned the man to become a reformer.

This, in my view, is deceit. I must also add that the country is in crisis because of deceit.

Now we must turn to important matters. But first a story to console President Kibaki. Not because of the Karua resignation, but because of Premier Raila Odinga’s indignation. Last week the Prime Minister was "mean" towards the President. My story is, therefore, to comfort the old man.

Once upon a time, the lion decided to ensure that all the animals in the jungle knew that he was king. He was so confident that he by-passed the smaller animals and went straight to the bear. “Who is the king of the jungle?” the lion asked. The bear replied, “Why, you of course!” The lion gave a mighty roar of approval and moved on.

Next he went to the tiger who gave a similar response. But when he got to the elephant, he was treated to a surprise. The elephant grabbed him and whirled him several times in the air, slammed him into a tree, pounded him several times on the ground and later threw him into a near-by lake. Beaten, bruised and battered, the lion struggled to its feet.

He looked at the elephant through sad and bloody eyes and said: “Just because you do not know the answer, you don’t have to be so mean!”

Like the lion in this story, the President should not worry about his status. If Mr Odinga is mean and rough, it is only because he does not "know" the answer. Or does he? Allow me to flip this argument.

In a poll conducted by a television station last week, 80 per cent of the viewers said that President Kibaki is the problem. There is a general lack of confidence in his leadership. Yes, he is the ‘‘King of the jungle’’ but he is an old, uninspired, tired lion. Like the elephant, Mr Odinga’s attack was an expression of frustration; a frustration shared by 80 per cent or so Kenyans.

The question, however, is this: What do we do? If the President is the problem, what is the solution? Our choices are few, drastic and sacrificial. Consider some with me.

One, we can borrow from the ancient civilisations. In these civilisations, a failed king was convinced to fall on his sword. Put simply, he was persuaded to commit suicide -- literally. But can we convince the President to "commit suicide"? Can we even convince him to resign in the interest of Mother Kenya?

I doubt it. Especially for a person who was sworn in at night. This option, in my view, is out of the question. President Kibaki does not love Kenya enough to make a personal sacrifice. Or maybe he does!

The second option requires a sacrifice from members of parliament. This one, in my view, is like pushing a camel through the eye of a needle. And it refers to section 59 of the constitution.

If 112 patriotic MPs can come together, they can send the President home. But, in so doing, they will also be sending themselves home. According to this section of the constitution, 51 per cent of Parliament can pass a vote-of-no-confidence in the government.

If such a motion passes, the President has three days to resign or dissolve Parliament.

If he refuses to do so in three days, Parliament will stand dissolved on the fourth day. From the fifth day, the country would have to prepare for a fresh election. The question, though, is this: can Parliament commit mass suicide for the love of Kenya? I doubt it.

The third option is at Section 12 of the Constitution. This section is entitled: “Removal of President on Grounds of Incapacity”.

The argument would be to remove the President on account of poor health. For this to happen, a Cabinet Resolution is needed. And such a resolution requires a simple majority.

With the resignation of Martha Karua, ODM has the simple majority in Cabinet to initiate such a resolution. If passed, it would be handed over to the Speaker, who is required by law to pass it to the Chief Justice.

The Chief Justice is then compelled to constitute a medical tribunal to examine the President. If the tribunal declares the President incapable of executing his duties, he is required to resign within three months as per Section 12(4). But is this possible? We do not know. My hypothesis is that President Kibaki was never sick, in the first place.

Where does this leave us? Yes, the Prime Minister and the country are frustrated by the President.

And maybe we should send him home. But there is an irony in this attempt. We are damned if we do; damned if we do not. If we send him home prematurely, we will have a violent election. If we do not, the 2012 election will be violent. Either way, we are doomed!

And, faced by such a dilemma, a wise nation does not react. It waits. The question is: can we? I am persuaded that we can. But while at it, we must watch out for politicians like Martha Karua. She is like a vulture. While we are hard at work, she will be cycling above us looking for a carcass; our failure to survive will be her nourishment! Or am I being too harsh on her? Only time will tell.

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