“This country needs statesmanship at this time more than brinkmanship. We can win yes and we shall win but we can loose the country itself,” Githunguri MP Njoroge Baiya, believed to be one of President Mwai Kibaki’s ardent supporters, said on Sunday. With this statement, he also appeared to part ways with his more rabidly tribal reactionaries who have persisted with their support for Kibaki even as his recent controversial nomination for appointment of a new chief justice, attorney general, director of public prosecutions and controller of budget was being roundly rejected and condemned. The nominations were condemned by, among others, the high court; Law Society of Kenya; International Commission of Jurists Kenya Chapter; Constitution Implementation Commission and Judicial Service Commission. Baiya offered some unexpected level-headedness because he is part of a political elite most of whose members appear to be intent on preventing proper democracy from taking root by allowing their constituencies to access alternative political leadership and thought.
But as Baiya showed sobriety and concern for the country, some in his PNU party continued with their display of brinkmanship, publicly supporting and following International Criminal Court suspects William Samoei Ruto and Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta in politicising their expected trial. They have also started and sustained a campaign to apportion blame to their rivals’ quarters in an attempt to get extrication from the trials and gain political capital.
“Kenya is not Egypt or Tunisia! If you play, the GSU will surround Kibera and Raila’s Luos won’t be able to go to Uhuru Park to demonstrate!” These statements have become uncomfortably common among PNU stalwarts in recent weeks as they continue their push to alienate the man seen as top contender for the Kenyan presidency, Raila Odinga. Last wee a staunch Kibaki supported echoed them when told that a popular revolt could scuttle their efforts to defeat the ICC. As time goes by, it is becoming increasingly clear that pro-Uhuru PNU strategies against the ICC had been botched by the ill-advised Kibaki nominations and the effort to have the trials deferred had effectively failed.
As a result of their hardliner position, on the instructions of a president who does not believe in any person other than himself being right, the stand-off over the nominations has continued and the ICC process remains on course with the assertion by Britain and the United States would veto any attempts to defer the trials. The president, feeling an apparently uncontrollable desire to solely exercise the shared coalition powers, has refused to back down even as his partner and rival insists that the constitution was violated in the unilateral nominations. The president appeared more unwilling to right his wrongs when he told the press last week that he would not back down and withdraw the names, which had been referred to the constitutional court. Kibaki had earlier disregarded an earlier court ruling that found his action unconstitutional.
That he now found it expedient to rely on the courts to justify his action has raised eyebrows and concern in some quarters that he could manipulate the bench. There are genuine concerns that some of the judges appointed to hear the case may not be sure of passing the upcoming vetting by the Judicial Service Commission and may therefore rule in favour of the president.
If, contrary to expectation, the court rules that his action was indeed unconstitutional and exceeded his authority, there is no guarantee that Kibaki, who had only days ago promised to respect the findings and ruling of parliament, could respect it given his recent past history and actions since took over office in 2002. It may however be a miscalculation as there are indications that the NGOs that had filed the case before the constitutional court intend to withdraw it citing having been overtaken by events following Speaker Kenneth Marende’s ruling, which asserted the unconstitutionality of Kibaki’s nominations. The president may therefore find himself in the unfamiliar position of having to file an application in court in order to have his way! The matter was however delayed when another 14 civil bodies applied to be enjoined in the case and were granted seven days to file their papers, which took the hearing to March 2, 2011.
Kibaki’s PNU camp was at the weekend declaring that they would marshal what they believe are their superior numbers in parliament to overturn Marende’s ruling that the Kibaki nominations were unconstitutional, which unconstitutionality was incurable by any committee of the house. The reality is that the PNU politicians, whose fronts are Kigumo MP Jamleck Kamau and Ndarangwa MP Jeremiah Kioni, are consumed by a desire to prevent Odinga, currently the frontrunner, from winning at the elections next year by weakening him politically through whittling his national support base and portraying him as no more than a Luo tribal leader and a dictator deserted by fellow politicians. According to the president’s men (and women), many of who are tribal chauvinists and supremacists, Odinga has no business seeking power because he is a Luo and has been a problem to the Kibaki administration. They also think that because they have attracted the political support of the unreliable Eldoret North MP William Samoei Ruto, they will have their way in Parliament and go on to oust Odinga as prime minister.
But a political scientist experienced in Kenyan politics is not convinced that the numbers the PNU brigade is boasting of in Parliament, which seem to have given Kibaki and Kenyatta the encouragement to continue to push the agenda of derailing the planned ICC trials at The Hague, can translate into anything more than hot air. Yes, as Baiya noted, it is possible for PNU to push for an agenda in parliament, even frustrate Odinga as premier and his ministers in the coalition, but those numbers cannot enable them to realise the ambition of stopping The Hague trials and ensuring that the uninspiring, uncontrollable and temperamental Kenyatta succeeds Mwai Kibaki as the new Kikuyu light. Unfortunate though it is, Kenyatta has been propped by the Kikuyu tribal elite as the New Light that will ensure the presidency does not leave the House of Mumbi because that would be ‘undemocratic’ since democracy is only democracy when a son of the House of Mumbi resides in State House. Kenyatta’s credibility is sullied in the eyes of other Kenyans by his alleged weakness for alcohol and cigarettes, which make him undependable.
There seems to be a misguided belief among the PNU brigade that Kenya cannot go the Egypt or Tunisia way because the wananchi, have been fed on a diet of so much tribalism that they can only support a position that perpetuates the tribal elite’s position that the country’s leadership must be within the ‘House’. They also believe that due to previous stereotypes and propaganda against Luo political leadership, Odinga cannot marshal enough support across the country to defeat their schemes which seek to ensure that true democracy is stifled and the new constitution is not fully implemented.
In the president’s office, the reactionaries are controlled and directed by Amb Francis Muthaura, who is also Kibaki’s chief advisor. He clique has ensured that its agenda is pushed, even when it is an unpopular agenda that alienates the president from the people who elected him into office.
The Kikuyu community, with the exception of a small minority, appears to have suffered a lot under the Kibaki administration. As an enterprising community, the Kikuyu find themselves in far-flung parts of the country either engaged in business or farming. But the serenity of their lives has been ruptured in the past by violence targeting them, the perpetrators of which Mwai Kibaki now seeks to protect. To these aggrieved people, it does not seem important to Kibaki and his men that common people lost their lives as a consequence of the actions of a few men who mismanaged the 2007 elections for the president’s benefit, or conducted elections that were so irregular that no definite winner could be pronounced without any dispute. These people’s lives have not been normal ever since and as the 2012 elections draw closer, they have started packing in panic, fearing for the safety of their loved ones and themselves in places where, as a consequence of their tribe’s elite, they are considered aliens exploiting local or native communities with the support of a Kikuyu president. Whether this is true of not is neither here nor there, the important consideration being that Kibaki’s present actions are specifically protective of elites that shows no respect for the common people’s lives.
One thing is certain; it is not just the Kikuyu holloi polloi that is being disenfranchised by this blatant negative ethnicity, but the whole country. Those politicians who have supported the deferral of the ICC trials, whether they will benefit Odinga or not, have no given any consideration to the national good.
“There are some people who think that if it means bringing this country down for Raila Odinga to be brought down, then they’re willing to sacrifice this country,” said Amason Kingi, the East African Cooperation Minister. Which brings us to the question: Do our politicians have any self-respect? Do those politicians who continue to villainise the prime minister on the basis of his ethnicity have any sense in their heads? Can they put forward any logic, other than their misguided and ethnically driven vitriol for the prime minister, for their rabid hate and anti-people rhetoric aimed at keeping their tribal constituencies away from considering credible alternative leadership?
Sam Ongeri, the education minister, claims that Kibaki was justified in making the nominations, but he forgets that by renting his services to the PNU mafia, he has also sold his constituency seat, where ODM is very strong. “Amani itaharibika,” he predicted to a gathering of his constituents on Saturday and unwittingly let the cat out of the bag, that the PNU team was ready to cause chaos to protect Ruto and Kenyatta from the ICC.
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