Support Global Voices

To stay independent, free, and sustainable, our community needs the help of friends and readers like you.

Donate now »

Kenyan Bloggers Outline Political Solutions

As the dust blown by fleeing residents of Kenya's violence prone areas settles, the fires of political hatred are finally subsiding and leaders are coming to their senses.

From the high street cafes to the dark alleys in Nairobi's river road (down town), Kenyans can be heard discussing what former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan should prescribe as the compromise. There are voices of hope and optimism as well as prophets of doom who see the current exercise as mere puppetry. The role of the international community has also been discussed accross the divide.

This situation is also reflected in the blogosphere.

Kenyan Entreprenuer gives their take on news about what the opposition wants from the talks and sums up that President Kibaki will not agree to the demands:

Finally, some news is beginning to trickle out about what ODM is looking for in it’s talks with the government. There’s no way in hell Kibaki is going to agree to these stipulations, which are:

An Executive Prime Minister who’d be the head of government and share power with the president

-A two-year period to review the constitution before a re-run of the election
-Half of all the cabinet positions should go to ODM
-Civil service jobs should also be distributed proportionally (which really means “ethnically”)

I don’t think Koffi Annan fully grasps the historical roots of Kenya’s current crisis. I don’t think he understands the players involved (both on the government side and on the opposition side) and at this point, Kibaki needs to find a way to spare Annan the public embarrassment and allow him to leave the country gracefully (I have no idea what Graça Machel and Mkapa are doing or why they were even invited).

Power sharing is the biggest stumbling block to the peace deal. Kumekucha feels that power sharing is not coming soon:

Sharing power is fraught with its own unique dynamics. Things can be so unpredictable once the interim administration acquires a life of its own. Imagining such a development must be scaring the octogenarians who detest anything seen to upset their glittering status quo. They are home with life as defined in their secluded comfort far away from the average Kenyans.

Kenya remains a bleeding hostage to tribal elite whose only common ideology is nationalized BIGOTRY. In the eyes of these owners of Kenya any attempt to empower the hollo polloi would be akin to sharpening the very knife whose blades they will be forced to kiss. In the eye of their twisted minds they must keep any trace and smell of blood from the sharks’ path.

Eyes on Kenya feels that the optimism is contageous and soon peace will prevail:

This optimism is contagious and is slowly affecting me. However, I still retain that a lot has to be considered and changed within the political environment between those involved and Kenyans in general. This is based on an analysis of the facts surrounding the nature and evolution of political parties in post-independence Kenya.

After a detailed analysis of the political crisis, the post concludes:
Kenya needs a fresh start in conceiving, feeding and maturing political parties that differentiated from each other in terms of ideology, a critical fact that would take them away from the current ethno-based party quagmire they are entrenched into. We need political parties not ethno-representatives.

The role of the international community has equally been controversial.wherethemadwomanresides opines about where/why the International Community comes in:

I’m very cross with Mwai Kibaki, Raila Odinga and their respective hardline surrogates today, for putting us in this position where the “International Community” have all the excuse they need to swagger into our sovereignty and order us around.

Because Condi, Milliband, and that tall German whatsisname guy with an unkempt moustache would not be all up in our faces being patronizing if Kenya's erstwhile leaders just left their mountain-sized egos outside the negotiating room and got their acts together already. We want back our country and our pride. Give us back our country and our pride.

Kenya Imagine sees USA's involvement as motivated by the global war on terror:

The State Department at first congratulated President Mwai Kibaki on his re-election but later rescinded as European Union and other observers reported irregularities in the vote-count. Since then, the Bush administration has been trying not to take sides in the election dispute and his Ambassador taken unofficial role as the Spokesperson for the entire International community pressuring Kenya's political elite to come to a compromise. To America, it is unfathomable that one of its most reliable and crucial partners in the “war against terror” was going to crumble in its lap.

The US is concerned about the security ramifications in the Greater Horn of Africa which it has been trying to hold together. A quick look at the map of Eastern Africa gives America little solace. Somalia is in anarchy with a multitude of warlords and radical Islamists, Sudan is involved in the Darfur war and Ethiopia is near war with Eritrea, which the US accuses of sponsoring terrorism. Between the grim sketches is Kenya, America's hope in the region which is now teetering on the verge of instability.

Kenya's political situation unravels at a time when the 2008 US defence budget has substantially increased reinforcing the Bush administration's persistence that its long “war on terror” will remain at the centre of its security strategy. The core budget for 2008 is expected to be $481.4 billion, compared with $441.5 billion for 2006. In raw terms, the US defence budget is now at similar levels to those during the height of the cold war in the mid-1980s.

Sir Ken wonders whether Annan should have integrated some known Kenyan mediators into his peace team:

He failed to search and incorporate ‘eminent’ Kenyans in his team and assumed that no Kenyan could have helped resolve the impasse. The truth of the matter is that the resolution lies with Kenyans and a spice of Kenyan mediation leadership could have helped. A good starting point would have been Ambassador Bethuel Kiplagat, Rtd General Lazarus Sumbeiywo, Washington Okumu and representatives from religious, legal, business and civil society. If the two sides could not have greed on common Kenyan mediation leaders they would have been allowed to nominate their own. Such leaders would have provided good background of the crisis and co-chaired/moderated the sessions to lead to a Kenyan solution that would most likely be accepted by a majority of Kenyans.

The constitutional review in Kenya has been pending since 1992. There has been many midwives to a new constitutional regime but nothing yet. This constitutional complications are threatening to derail the peace process.

Sir Ken explains:

There has been debate whether there is a constitutional crisis in Kenya that allows for the current constitution to be altogether suspended or selectively applied as some have been advocating. It is true that Kenyans have always wanted a new constitution dispensation. The assumption has always been that the current constitution be in place fully until the new one is enacted. At no one time have Kenyans envisaged a transition period where there is no constitution, new or old. The question is, should at that point, the military be allowed to take over?

Kenyan Jurist gives an opinion about the constitutional issues:

The reason there is negotiation or mediation to resolve the current political crisis is because the constitution and the present institutions have failed us. To adopt a purely legalistic stance, that all negotiation must take place within the confines of the current constitution is to negotiate without negotiating. As I have always argued in this blog, the current crisis facing Kenya is not a legal problem but a political one. Once a political settlement of all issues is reached, the necessary legal instruments including the constitution can be enacted and given legal force. What we must not do or what we must avoid is use the law or place legal impediments in seeking solutions.


  • Lucas Mackasmiel

    If greed for power had not defined our destiny from the beginning, we should not have gotten into this. Let us learn to share. That is the reason Oginga Odinga told the British he would not rule Kenya if Kenyatta (His second God) was in prison. He put his country’s interest ahead of his own. In 2002, Raila Odinga put the country’s interest ahead of his won, when he pronounced KIBAKI TOSHA! But Kibaki came in and served his own interests. Now Kibaki is throwing the country in turmoil by destroying the country through FORCEFUL and chaotic manipulations. He knew Kikuyus had more to lose than anybody else. Kikuyus have land , businesses outside their original central province, there is no way they can use force to rule Kenya. They have more to lose. A poor man has only his life to lose!

    Now that I got that out of the way, let us find a peaceful way of sharing whatever is left of Kenya following this stupid act of cowardice. Kibaki must accept to rule with the very people he campaigned against. He must bow to some of their demands for sharing the cabinet in a manner to show that power will not be misused by the president. He must accept that Kenyans do not have a whole year to wait! The sooner we can get this settled the better for all of us.
    May God bless Kenya and all Kenyans everywhere.

  • An interesting point I never thought of until I read this post: Why aren’t there any Kenyans in the mediation team? I would have thought that at the very least members of the business elite or ex-politicians would have been involved.

  • AIUSA Individuals at Risk

    On February 27, people around the world are reaching out for Kenya to call for an end to the violence and protect all Kenyans’ human rights. Amnesty International is holding demonstrations in cities around the world from Washington, DC, to Kampala. We want Kenyans to know we stand with them, so we have started a Reach Out for Kenya Facebook group and page for photos and messages from our members to Kenyans. Check out Amnesty International USA’s Kenya page to learn more:

Join the conversation

Authors, please log in »


  • All comments are reviewed by a moderator. Do not submit your comment more than once or it may be identified as spam.
  • Please treat others with respect. Comments containing hate speech, obscenity, and personal attacks will not be approved.

Receive great stories from around the world directly in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the best of Global Voices!

Submitted addresses will be confirmed by email, and used only to keep you up to date about Global Voices and our mission. See our Privacy Policy for details.

Newsletter powered by Mailchimp (Privacy Policy and Terms).

* = required field
Email Frequency

No thanks, show me the site