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Diplomats should keep away and desist from calling for dialogue

By Francis Karugu | Published Mon, January 22nd 2018 at 08:28, Updated January 22nd 2018 at 08:29 GMT +3

Kenyans must reject calls for “dialogue” as proposed by a section of the political class. The notion created is that our country is in crisis, and indeed the country risk ranking by specialist risk consulting firm Control Risks Ltd, puts Kenya below banana republics such as DRC, Zimbabwe and Cameroon.

We are not in a crisis; we simply are experiencing an elongated “sour grapes purgatory”. In western democracies, which we so love to mindlessly ape and draw references from, the rules of competition are clear and well-laid-out. Losers either retire or humbly take the back bench.

In the United Kingdom, and in most commonwealth democracies, losers in election contests take to the opposition side benches, appoint a shadow cabinet and challenge government policy as the “government in waiting”. Our democracy was for many years modelled on this Westminster model where the House of Commons has a government side led by prime minister, and an opposition side led by the Leader of Official Opposition.

Diplomatic corps

We have overrated the concept of state power as endowed in the presidency. Whether this hypothesis is proved or not, this has been checked through presidential term limits in the constitution. But in the spirit of fairness and candour, there should also be term limits for opposition leadership, for in truth, the opposition possesses some power that has semblance to state power.

It is for this reason that in Britain, whenever a leader of a party loses in the general elections, they elect to resign and let other people lead the parties. That was true of Gordon Brown, Nick Clegg and immediate former Prime Minister David Cameron who resigned after failing to convince Britons to stay within the European Union.

The international community and members of the diplomatic community have been our very good friends, partnering with successive governments in building our economy and bettering our communities. Leaders of the diplomatic corps have not shied away from correcting areas where they felt successive governments have not addressed well. It therefore becomes incomprehensible why members of the diplomatic corps would fail to call out excesses of the opposition.

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Soon after Donald Trump was elected President in the US, there were street protests, but the law is the law, and most Americans are now at peace with the state of affairs. There were no calls for Hilary Clinton to share power with Donald Trump, never mind Trump lost the popular vote to Mrs Clinton.

Calls for dialogue are fraudulent, and members of the diplomatic corps should not be drawn into such discussion. In fact, it is so preposterous that some opposition figures have been shifting goals. From boycotting the elections to secession threats, and now calls to form a coalition government. It is not possible to have your cake and eat it.

Keep off

I therefore respectfully submit that diplomats should keep out of this debate; else we will conclude they are aiding and abetting lawlessness. Diplomats should remind themselves that they are first and foremost the representatives of sovereign states, and their raison d’être is to promote the interests of their home countries.

It is incomprehensible why diplomats would want to force a coalition government in a sovereign state like Kenya, unless of course this is of interests to their home countries. These are the only logical lenses to see through these efforts by diplomats. It is therefore in the interest of the diplomatic corps to impress upon belligerent voices to heed the rule of the law.

Indeed, I submit it is time the diplomats applied “coercive diplomacy” on pugnacious voices of secession, economic sabotage, and indeed, proponents of illegal coalition government. I submit there is total semblance between these people with lawless characters such as Foday Sankoh of the abhorrent Sierra Leone’s rebel group Revolutionary United Front.

I also see a lot of Joseph Kony of the Lord’s Resistance Army. The international community has branded these merchants of lawlessness, they should apply the same standard in Kenya.

The Opposition in Kenya should focus on its legitimate role of checking the Government and proposing alternative policies.

The fast and furious mutations of demands from inexplicable reforms, secession, to power-sharing look, feel and smell of high political malevolence. The members of the diplomatic corps should distance themselves from such assemblages.

 Mr Karugu is a management consultant, strategy and [email protected]

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