County power deals to curb poll violence
Posted Thursday, August 2 2012 at 21:00
- Programme to share senator and governor seats among communities in 27 areas which have been identified as chaos hotspots in the coming election
Communities in 27 counties considered violence hotspots are being encouraged to enter into power sharing arrangements ahead of the General Election to prevent conflict.
The idea being pushed by the National Cohesion and Integration Commission would have communities share elective positions.
The deals are being encouraged in Nakuru, where a preliminary agreement between the Kikuyu and Kalenjin is expected to be signed this morning, and in Busia, Bungoma and Migori. Other areas are Isiolo, Marsabit, Tana River and Mandera.
In Migori, the Kuria and Luo, the two dominant communities in the area, are being encouraged to share out the governor and senator seats.
The Bukusu, Tachoni and Sabaot of Bungoma County; Somali and Borana in Isiolo; Borana and Gabra in Marsabit and the Orma, Wardei and Pokomo in Tana River are also being encouraged to reach agreements.
The commission has been engaging communities in the multi-ethnic counties to go for what it calls “negotiated democracy” so that no group feels marginalised.
NCIC is working on the strength of National Security Intelligence Service reports, which have warned of election-related violence in the regions.
“Voting patterns in Kenya are predominantly ethnic and so communities with large numbers within the counties could easily lock out the minorities. In this case, the minority groups will feel marginalised. This is a recipe for conflict. We are telling Kenyans not to begin their counties on a foundation of exclusion like we have done to ourselves in the last 50 years,” Dr Mzalendo Kibunjia, the NCIC chairman, told the Nation in an interview.
He added: “You don’t want to go to elections with some groups in your counties feeling they are already losers from day one because they do not have numbers.’’
But it is not just the fear of violence that is driving the NCIC initiative.
The Constitution guarantees the rights of minorities and they can move to court if they feel sidelined, paralysing the affairs of affected regions.
“Remember also that if the county does not take care of minorities and the marginalised, they can go to court and have the county assembly declared unconstitutional.’’
In such eventualities, the Central Government will run the affairs of the county until the matters are resolved by the courts, he said, adding: “Let us get it right in the first go by being inclusive.”
Dr Kibunjia says the violence that counties like Marsabit, Isiolo and Mandera have already experienced this year are related to power politics and things may worsen ahead of the elections and after if nothing is done.
Power-sharing was a key element in a peace accord that NCIC helped to broker in Nakuru county, and which will be signed Friday.
In the agreement, the elders pledge to “encourage political candidates and supporters, leaders and the institutions of state, to find ways of acknowledging and dealing effectively with all our concerns about being permanently excluded from governance and state functions”.
But Dr Kibunjia will find it hard hammering out the agreements and effecting them because while his idea is popular among the minority groups, some in the majority oppose it.