, NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 18 – The National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) now says the intervention of former UN chief Kofi Annan in the raging political dispute between the President and Prime Minister is unnecessary.
The commission said on Thursday that the issue was purely administrative and can be handled internally.
NCIC Chairman Mzalendo Kibunjia says the two parties should instead employ local peace lobby groups to arbitrate the issue and added that his commission was ready and willing to bring the two parties together.
Dr Kibunjia who spoke at a meeting with editors took issue with Kenyans’ lack of faith in local institutions saying the country did not need to resort to various regional and international personalities for solutions to its problems.
“This is what has failed us. We create institutions that we neither believe in nor trust in. We are saying can we look in our country before we even go out to Kofi Annan, and the AU and others? Then if we are defeated we can go out of the country,” he said.
“We want to be honest brokers and we want them to come to us and we will listen. We must trust the institutions we are building. As a commission our good offices are open and we urge our leaders to take advantage of this,” he said.
Dr Kibunjia added that the commission had already engaged the two principals on the issue and hoped the matter would be resolved before the country marked the second year of the signing of the National Accord.
“As you all know diplomacy is not public but we have sent them fillers about the handling of this issue carefully and to remind them of February 28th. We hope to see a moment of friendship on this day and put this administrative crisis behind us,” he said.
He further asked Kenyans to stay put and wait for ODM and PNU to sort out the crisis adding that they should not allow politicians to pull them in and disrupt the existing peace.
“We have one country; it is our responsibility to protect it by all means. Even if we have to break ranks with our friends. We have to protect this country for all of us. No Kenyan should resort to violence and sacrifice their lives for the sake of a single political leader in this country; Kenyan’s lives are worth more than that,” he said.
The commission urged the media to play its civic duty of ensuring cohesion and integration in the country.
“We are asking the Fourth Estate to help us in this task because what we are dealing with is perceptions and worldview which are very difficult to change and will take time. But with their help we will achieve our mandate of promoting integration,” he said.
Dr Kibunjia also urged Kenyans not to panic maintaining that the issue was not a national crisis and that it would be resolved administratively.
“We want to let Kenyans know that the country is not gripped in a national crisis that ‘oh we are almost going into another problem like we had in 2007’. There exist many Kenyans of sober minds, sobriety and restraint who can arrest this situation before it gets worse than that. Every Kenyan should say never again,” he said.
The commission further maintained its previous stance on the government’s crackdown on illegal immigrants. The chairman said the crackdowns should not target specific communities as that would alienate them and create suspicion among Kenyans which would hinder integration and cohesion.
The row between the coalition partners the Party of National Unity and the Orange Democratic Movement began on Sunday when Prime Minister Raila Odinga suspended Agriculture Minister William Ruto and his Education counterpart professor Sam Ongeri following allegations of corruption in their respective ministries.
Mr Odinga’s suspension order was short-lived as President Mwai Kibaki overturned the suspension saying the Premier never consulted him when he gave his marching orders to the two ministers.
Following the President’s assertion, Mr Odinga through his ODM party declared a dispute among the coalition partners and urged the African Union to intervene through the Panel of African Eminent Personalities headed by Mr Annan.
However the Party of National Unity has maintained that there is no national crisis that calls for outside intervention claiming that the row is purely an ODM matter.