BY JOSEPH LISTER NYARINGO
While President Kibaki and his predecessor are exercising democracy in the current Constitution debate, personal attacks do not augur well for the country.
They are expected to exhibit decorum and statesmanship that the new generation should emulate.
Former President Daniel arap Moi has a right to take a position on the proposed Constitution but the aggressiveness he has exhibited in campaigning for its rejection has been characterized by rancour, propaganda, falsehoods and misinterpretations of clauses.
It\’s very rare for a retired President to openly pick a quarrel or throw words at a sitting president and vice versa, but the latest spat between former President Moi and his successor has taken many Kenyans by surprise.
It\’s imperative for the two leaders to remain pillars of social harmony and role models. Our Country is still fragile following the 2008 post-poll tragedy. The peace we currently enjoy is likely to be jeopardised when two cherished elders openly wash their dirty linen in public.
Coming from a province which was the hot bed of the post election violence and where majority of the people are against the proposed Constitution, Moi and Kibaki\’s disagreements do not help to cement the peace that the multi-ethnic Rift Valley province desperately craves for.
This might spill over to catalyse a collision between members of the public in the Rift Valley who are for and against the proposed law.
In Western democracies, most presidents do not directly criticise their predecessors. When they do, it\’s so veiled and usually touches on their party policies, or campaigning for party candidates.
The best example is the recent passage of the healthcare legislation by the Obama administration in the USA which sparked heavy criticism from the Republican Party, but not a single day did former President George W Bush come out to criticise his successor, President Obama.
On our Continent, we have never heard Benjamin Mkapa, Thabo Mbeki, or John Kufuor directly criticise their successors. In fact, despite the acrimonious debate that culminated in Thabo Mbeki\’s exit from the ANC party leadership and South African presidency, the former president has kept his cool and given Jacob Zuma the chance to lead the rainbow nation.
The die is cast and Kenyans must look far ahead and choose between what is right and discard what is undesirable. I leave them to judge for themselves whom between the current President and his predecessor is standing for our national good or doom.
The beauty of our democracy should be exercised with caution so that we can build a united country for posterity. Freedom can build or wreck a nation but when applied wisely to spread what is desirable, truthful and beneficial to the governed, it will go a long way to cement peace and tranquillity in any society.
(The writer lives in New Jersey USA)