Country crying out for peace and unity

Monday November 20 2017

By EDITORIAL
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The Supreme Court ruling upholding the re-election of President Uhuru Kenyatta now paves the way for his swearing-in and subsequent crafting of a new government.

It has been a long period of ups and down since the contentious August 8 elections, whose presidential result was nullified, precipitating a rerun and another petition.

The country has gone through tempestuous moments.

UNITY

The elections have left a deeply divided nation and entrenched ethnic animosities; tearing apart the fabric that once held the people together.

There are many unresolved issues that require urgent attention, but which cannot be sorted out without consensus and a united approach.

President Kenyatta’s first duty should be to heal and unite the nation.

He should reach out to opposition leader Raila Odinga and both must acknowledge that the country is hurting, and that the hardline positions they have stuck to cannot take us anywhere.

RECONCILIATION

They must rein in their supporters and encourage tolerance.

The government must also stop its high-handedness and brutality against the opposition.

Similarly, the opposition must drop adverse strategies such as defiance and consumer boycotts to pave the way for honest conversations about the nation’s destiny.

National healing and reconciliation must be demonstrated through concrete actions.

INCLUSIVITY

For a start, President Kenyatta must constitute an all-inclusive government, irrespective of ethnic backgrounds.

A major criticism of his first term was confining State appointments largely to two communities and excluding the rest of the population.

Appointment to public service is a right for every qualified Kenyan and locking out some because of perceived political orientation is not only unconstitutional, but also evokes ethnic resentment that negates the goals of co-existence and national unity.

Second, the country must confront the legal deficiencies experienced in the past seven years of implementing the Constitution.

GOVERNANCE

Whereas the country opted for a presidential system, the exigencies of the day have proved that we lack the competencies and mindset to fully implement it.

Perhaps, we would be better off with a hybrid that combines presidential and parliamentary systems and accommodates more people rather than the current one that is exclusionist.

This one creates a highly competitive political set-up fraught with malpractices and vicissitudes, leaving in its wake a trail of bad blood.

DEVOLUTION
Third, the government must allow institutions and systems to work.

Devolution that stands out as the centrepiece of the Constitution is facing a serious threat from the national government that seems hell-bent on starving and killing it quietly through financial and administrative constrictions.

It is foolhardy to think of reversing the county system; it is the mark of dispersal of power and resources and empowerment of people to take charge of their destiny.

GROWTH

Not only must it be supported but strengthened with increased budgetary allocations and monitoring and evaluation to ensure it works.

Fourth, the country is bleeding economically after months of paralysis characterised by high-octane politicking.

Many companies are closing shop, reducing operations or issuing profit warnings.

Economic growth projections have been slashed from 5.5 per cent early in the year to 5.1 per cent last month.

The political parties must stabilise the politics to create a conducive environment for doing business.

President Kenyatta has a chance to make a difference.

He must eschew vengeance, reach out to the adversaries, think broadly and push for national healing and reconstruction.