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Only Kibaki and Raila can save the coalition’s troubled marriage


By Kilemi Mwiria

The current squabbling in the Grand Coalition Government is terrible for the country. The shilling is plunging, tourists are wary of coming over, and the terrible ghost of ethnic tension is rearing its ugly head again.

How sad, given that the PNU/ODM marriage was crafted to hold the country together for national unity and economic prosperity.

In addition to working out a power sharing arrangement between the two principals, the National Accord was meant to prepare ground for establishing structures that would make it impossible for Kenya to experience the madness of 2007/8. Among others, these would include: a new constitution; relevant electoral structures including an acceptable voter register; and a system for promoting equity in the sharing of national resources. Thus, the accord was more about Kenya and its future than it was about the principals or their political followers.

The two are in a marriage they would have loved to avoid but have to stay put for the sake of their children; the Kenyan nation.

The current crisis is complicated by the fact that even if the Prime Minister had acted unilaterally by suspending the ministers, the principal on which he acted is supported by many politicians and the general public. Who wants to be seen as condoning corruption? This is one reason why compromise is needed.

That compromise has to be led by the two principals in the absence of their political backers and advisors who have less responsibility for holding us together. Remember the National Accord was only possible because the hardliners were isolated.

Although continued external involvement is bad for our sovereignty, the reason they came in the first place is because left to ourselves, we could not agree.

In any case, what happens in Kenya affects others irrespective of whether they have anything to do with it.

Even if ODM politicians are not in talking terms in their own party, who in our two political camps will facilitate compromise between ODM and PNU extremists? Even couples seek intervention of pastors and marriage counsellors from time to time.

Thus, if Kofi Annan and others who love Kenya can help bring the principals together, why not? We need to be mindful of the serious negative consequences prolonged disagreement could mean for the country.

Kenyans must, therefore, reject hawkish politicians who, like children of different mothers, are busy forming political camps for a drawn out war in Parliament around issues such as boycotts of Cabinet meetings, votes of no confidence or contests on who should be leader of Government business. This is not the best time for political meetings organised around ethnic and party blocks to heap blame on one’s political enemies when we should be more conciliatory.

A poisoned political atmosphere will make achievement of much needed reforms impossible and reverse recent gains in economic recovery.

At a time of political crisis such as the one we are in, it really should not matter which side of the political divide is right. It is more important we keep the country together. Just as they did with the accord, President Kibaki and Prime Minister Odinga have to show statesmanship by ignoring those who would like to see the country slide back to chaos. Likewise, Mr Kenneth Marende, the Speaker of the National Assembly, will be called upon to be as objective as he has been known to be when Parliament reconvenes next week.

The three will need the backing of those Kenyans who are less mindful of whether or not their tribes’ people are seen to be in power or that the fight against corruption is targeting one of their own.

How shameful that some of us have the guts to demonstrate in support of those suspected of corruption just because they hail from our home areas?

The writer is an Assistant Minister for Higher Education, Science and Technology and MP for Tigania West.

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