Eldoret peace rally that never was

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JOSEPH KAMOTHO

It is a week since suspended Higher Education Minister William Ruto hosted President Mwai Kibaki and 60 other political leaders from across the country in his Eldoret North Constituency, the scene of the worst post-election murders, property destruction and displacement.

The meeting coming four years after the bloody protests that followed the announcement of the presidential election results and more than a year away from another general election was masked as a peace and reconciliation crusade.

However, lives don\’t seem to matter anymore in this country.  The identities of arsonists that burnt 40 people in a church at Eldoret and senseless killers of the innocent are a well kept secret and nobody has been charged nor does it appear if they will ever be charged with those grisly acts.

Instead, the pending trials of suspected plotters have been politicised and the government is more than ready to render legal support to the so-called masterminds of the post election violence named by the International Criminal Court Prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo.

The highlight of such an event should have been the compensation and resettlement of victims but the contrary was the case.

The peace rally turned into a political meeting in which Rift Valley leaders chose to settle political scores with the Prime Minister Raila Odinga over the Mau evictions and the impending trial at the International Criminal Court at The Hague of three politicians, a top civil servant; former Police Commissioner and a radio presenter.

Any peace and reconciliation meeting in the absence of prosecution of high profile perpetrators and culprits is nothing but an exercise in futility or a public relations exercise at its best.

The National Accord on Peace and Reconciliation signatories, President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga should have been the ideal and credible hosts of such an event because of historical reasons.

 Their disputed election results sparked off the soon to be forgotten bloody incident in which more than 1,500 perished.
Conspicuous absentees at the reconciliation event were families and relatives of victims.  So was the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) tasked by the Grand Coalition Government to investigate the causes of amongst others, the 2008 post-election violence.

The peace and reconciliation hosts sought the endorsement of the Kamba, Kikuyu and Kalenjin (KKK) group as Kibaki successors.

Retired President Moi had disapproved of the ethnic realignments in present day Kenya that is yet to heal from post election violence. "Where do you place other communities in this arrangement"? Moi asked and pleaded with the political leaders to decamp from tribal outfits and rejoin KANU where Uhuru Kenyatta is supposed to be the bonafide leader.

Evidence shows that ethnic alliances incited communities and prepared the electorate for violence and revenge attacks.  The KKK alliance would be no exception. The political realignments ahead of the 2007 general elections, the KANU/NDP merger, and the GEMA/ KAMATUSA alliances ended in a disaster. 

What the architects of ethnic alliances are not aware of are the consequences of political marriages of convenience by a clique of self seekers now masquerading as authors of generational change. 

Generation cannot be coerced and comes gradually as part of a peaceful transition.  Tanzania like some of the countries that have gone through such change never forced it.

Said and done, Kenyan youths have themselves to blame. They betrayed peers in the quest to rule by forming Youth for KANU 92 as Moi\’s campaign vehicle. Some of the founders of YK92 are the selfsame bowing before the old leaders to hand over the mantle.

The clamour for tribal groupings is bad for democracy, national unity and against the rule of law as many can recall. Any right thinking Kenyan must and should be wary of opportunistic tendencies and disown the same for the sake of peaceful co-existence and unity in diversity.
  
(The writer is a former cabinet minister and secretary general of two major political parties. Email: [email protected]
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