Anxiety in 2015 as political rivals roll up their sleeves
| Jan 4th 2015 | 4 min read
Kenya: With only two years left to the next General Election, what does the political scene portend in 2015?
Political analyst Macharia Munene says although there is optimism the political climate will improve, efforts must be made to harmonise the two houses of Parliament and reduce institutional quarrels between Parliament and the Judiciary.
“The political scene may be better. There are those whose business is to cause havoc but there are legal modalities of dealing with such people,” said Prof Macharia, a professor of History and International Relations at the United States International University (USIU)-Kenya.
Martin Oloo, a political analyst and lecturer at the Kenya School of Law, says 2015 should be a year both Jubilee and CORD sober-up politically.
“Both coalitions must now focus on pre-election in 2017 and do a lot of scheming. For Jubilee, it has gone beyond the 2013 election promises and reality is that it has to deliver. For CORD, it should forget cries over stolen victory and plan for battle in 2017,” Oloo told The Standard on Sunday.
A latest survey by Ipsos Synovate projects that majority of Kenyans (46 per cent) are concerned that the political climate is getting worse. In the poll results released on Wednesday, only 21 per cent of Kenyans thought the political climate in 2015 would be better, while 27 per cent thought it would remain the same as it were in 2014.
CORD co-principal and Senate Minority Leader Moses Wetang’ula has already urged for political tolerance as President Uhuru Kenyatta warned he will not allow democracy to breed terrorism.
Wetang’ula, like Macharia, is optimistic there will be less political intolerance this year and that the referendum push will proceed peacefully. “We expect the Jubilee Government to be less intolerant and less dictatorial.”
Cornelius Korir, the Eldoret Catholic Diocese Bishop, has asked leaders to forget their differences and concentrate on development issues.
“As we celebrate the new year, I want to appeal to our leaders, particularly MPs, to desist from seeking selfish ends. They should instead preach peace and harmony among all Kenyans,” said Korir.
In his new year message, President Kenyatta said Government will not allow anyone to intensify the country’s vulnerability in the name of freedom and democracy, in an apparent criticism of CORD’s opposition to the Security Laws (Amendment ) Act 2014.
But even as the President was issuing the caution, Kakamega Senator Bonni Khalwale, a key member of the Opposition, asked the Government to be ready for a storm in the new year, saying CORD will take Jubilee head on to ensure the new security laws are not implemented.
And while CORD co-principals Raila Odinga and Kalonzo Musyoka have expressed their willingness to engage the Government in dialogue to resolve the challenges facing the country, they have equally vowed to push their referendum demands forward, a move likely to create political friction with the ruling Jubilee coalition.
“The Constitution, our most outstanding collective achievement in recent years, appears in peril with attempts to roll back its promise in favour of the old order. Initially, the target was clearly devolution, the centre-piece of our new order. But lately, this has extended to basic rights, freedoms and liberties that seemed well protected by the progressive Bill of Rights,” the two said in their new year message.
There is also likely to be tough battles in both the National Assembly and the Senate between CORD and Jubilee legislators as the Opposition tries to counter the tyranny of numbers. The two houses are also likely to renew their supremacy battles over Bills touching on counties.
If the Senate lives up to its promise to file a petition at the Supreme court against the the 47 laws the National Assembly passed without its input, there could be a protracted battle between the two houses.
National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi had earlier said differences over Bills could only be solved through constitutional amendments, not seeking advisories from the Supreme Court.
Moi University Communication lecturer Masibo Lumala says too much politics may not be good for Kenya in 2015 as it sends the wrong message to the public, investors and the international community.
Behind the scenes
“We are mid-way after the 2013 general election and one would expect political temperatures to have fallen with issues of development taking centre stage,” said Lumala.
Kalonzo, the Wiper Democratic Movement (WDM) party leader, has said CORD plans to intensify its referendum, push in the new year. The Okoa Kenya referendum push aims at strengthening devolution, promoting national equity and enhancing accountability of constitutional institutions.
While it has been speculated Okoa Kenya may join forces with the “Pesa Mashinani ‘ referendum fronted by the Council of Governors, it remains to be seen how the Raila-led brigade will fight to secure 24 of the 47 counties to ensure the country goes to a referendum.
In an earlier interview with The Standard on Sunday, Raila had expressed optimism that the coalition would secure more than its own controlled counties when the crucial vote comes. The Jubilee coalition has been working behind the scenes to ensure the referendum push is punctured at the county level by denying the opposition the 24 mandatory counties.
Most governors from The National Alliance (TNA) and the United Republican Party (URP) have already been convinced to abandon the referendum push. The government has also been targeting members of county assemblies, offering them promises of goodies to withdraw support for the referendum
The Jubilee coalition leadership had last year dismissed appeals of national dialogue by CORD.
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