The Kenyan Constitution has put in place mechanisms to ensure the next General Election is conducted in a peaceful atmosphere.
Speaking at the monthly breakfast meeting of the Kenya Parliamentary Journalists’ Association in Nairobi’s Stanley Hotel Tuesday, a former commissioner of the Interim Independent Boundaries Review Commission Murshid Mohammed said the Constitution has attempted to address the causes of the post-election violence that rocked the country after the controversial 2007 polls.
Mr Mohammed said the pace at which institutions had been set up and the gusto with which Parliament had enacted laws was evidence that the country was poised to have peaceful elections.
"Given the fact that we’re emerging from a major conflict and are grappling with very serious issues that touch on our nationhood, the progress we’ve made so far is very impressive," said Mr Mohammed.
"If we don’t have peaceful elections in March 2013, then this Constitution will be an academic exercise. That is because, at that point in time when violence takes over, the laws are silent.”
Most of the laws and new institutions, plus the State organs that have been reformed, were all aimed at addressing the gaps that led to the post-poll chaos in 2007/08.
He said that so far, the commissions and the Judiciary reforms had addressed fundamental weaknesses in the country’s governance regime.
Mr Mohammed, whose nomination to chair the National Police Service Commission is pending with President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga, added that the incentive to wage ethnic-based violent conflict at election time, no longer existed, because the patronage powers of an imperial presidency no longer exist under the two-year-old dispensation.
“The steam has been taken out of the ethnic competition for power. It does not matter who becomes President,” said Mr Mohammed.
He told journalists at the meeting that they had the onus to tell the country about the gains of the new Constitution, if only to dispel the 49-year-tradition of an imperial presidency, where the allocation of public resources was skewed in favour of the region from where the Head of State came from.
Mr Mohammed added that it would be ambitious to expect the fruits of the two-year-old Constitution at this stage, because, of entrenched interests, many of them carry-overs of the colonial regime, such as the provincial administration.
“We tend to forget that we have a very young Constitution. We need a much longer time for this Constitution to grow and the institutions to evolve, in order to assess its full impact. Let’s also not forget that this Constitution is not yet fully operational… Even when a snake sheds its skin, it’s a slow, caking process,” said Mr Mohammed.
He noted that there were entrenched forces that were fighting to keep the status quo. He appealed for public goodwill to ensure that the Constitution is implemented to the letter and its spirit realised.
The meeting was sponsored by the Fredrich Eibert Foundation.
It came at a time when the country is taking stock of the implementation of the Constitution two years after its promulgation on August 27, 2010.
The breakfast meeting also came just a day after President Kibaki and Mr Odinga led other top government officials in a public appeal for calm and tolerance in the electoral season.