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The New Year promises to be full of challenges

BUSINESS
By | January 1st 2011
By | January 1st 2011
BUSINESS

By Biketi Kikechi and Alex Ndegwa

Implementing the Constitution, criminal charges facing six Kenyans at The Hague and President Kibaki succession pose major challenges in 2011.

It will also be race against time for Parliament to enact 49 legislations to enable the Constitution become fully operational. The other weighty matter that has to be dispensed off at the beginning of the year is the appointment of the new Chief Justice to replace incumbent Evan Gicheru before February 27. And with Attorney General Amos Wako set to exit by August, Parliament has its job cut out.

The Hague: Kenya will have to walk the tight rope of politics as the cases of the six Kenyans named by ICC Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo come up.

[PICTURE: REUTERS]

The Constitution says the CJ should be appointed within six months after the new supreme law — which was promulgated on August 27, last year — comes into effect. It also stipulates that a new Attorney General should be appointed within a year.

Other crucial issues will include the vetting of judges and magistrates, the appointment of the new Attorney General, the constitution of the Supreme Court and the constitution of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission all before August.

Speed will therefore be of the essence in the vetting of judges to create room for the constitution of members of the Supreme Court.

But politics will again dominate public debate as the country navigates the penultimate year before the next general election when President Kibaki calls it a day after serving two terms.

Those harbouring ambitions to succeed President Kibaki include Prime Minister Raila Odinga, Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka, Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, Internal Security Minister George Saitoti, suspended Higher Education Minister William Ruto, Gichugu MP Martha Karua and Sirisia MP Moses Wetang’ula.

The high stakes succession battle is likely to trigger early campaigns as politicians position themselves for 2012.

The naming of Ruto and Uhuru by the ICC Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo as being among the chief perpetrators of the post-election violence in 2007 threw a spanner into the pre-election schemes. The others in the list are Industrialisation Minister Henry Kosgey, Head of the Civil Service and Secretary to the Cabinet Francis Muthaura, a journalist at Kass FM Mr Joshua Sang and the Postmaster General Maj Gen (rtd) Hussein Ali.

The ICC judges are expected to look at the evidence Ocampo has against the six and decide whether they have a case to answer.

Bitter rivals Raila and his deputy in ODM Ruto gave Kenyans what to expect in 2011 as they closed the year with two high profile political meetings. Raila hosted Kalenjin elders and grassroots leaders in Bondo this week to consolidate his support following his break-up with Ruto.

But Ruto, who is Eldoret North MP, countered yesterday by leading 12 MPs to a prayer meeting for Emo foundation leaders in Eldoret, where it was announced that the New Year would formalise the political divorce between the two ODM leaders.

Yesterday, Mutula Kilonzo, Imenti Central MP Gitobu Imanyara and political analyst Mutahi Ngunyi said 2011 would be a defining moment for the country. They cite implementation of the Constitution, with Parliament required to enact more than a dozen legislations by August and political developments expected on the eve of the election year.

Mutula said: "It’s going to be a challenging year because Parliament has almost 19 laws to pass before August and constitute new institutions. Unfortunately recent experiences show you cannot predict what Parliament will do."

Ngunyi describes 2011 as the "crunch" year, citing at least 16 legislations on constitutional reforms the House must pass or risk dissolution. He noted the various processes in place such as implementation of the Constitution and the ICC prosecutions, which converge in 2012, will require strong leadership.

"At the moment we have two generals. But as Napoleon said one bad general will do a better job than two good generals," Mutahi said.

Imanyara noted: "It is the year that will determine whether we will achieve Agenda Four. We should focus attention on the Commission on the Implementation of the Constitution involved in drafting legislations hoping it will function independent of vested political interests."

On political scheming, Ngunyi poses: "Ruto and Uhuru are likely to go for the Samsonian option of collapsing the house with everyone inside knowing Raila will be among the casualties."

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