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How I yearn for the rule of law

It is more than a year since the mere twisting of the law to suit circumstances plunged the country into an unforgettable chaos quelled only by outsiders and we seem not to have learnt a lesson from the spontaneous protests against the premature tallying of presidential election results in 2007.

The ugly events of last year are a graphic illustration of impunity and lack of regard for the rule of law that is an important ingredient in a democracy. This blatant betrayal of conscience was too profound to be forgiven and merely reminds us of the Kiswahili proverb ‘fahali wawili wakimenyana nyasi huumia’ which translates to when two bulls fight it is the grass that suffers. 

National objectives, some that are so crucial and urgent, have been thwarted by tribal chauvinists and habitual lawbreakers. There is already a tug of war on the implementation of the post-election violence reform proposals known by another term as Agenda IV brokered by the international mediation team of Kofi Annan.

Now that we are in a coalition government the President must and should consult widely with partners on a number of issues, appointments included. This is not negotiable nor reversible as some MPs would like Kenyans to believe. Consultation  and the  National Accord  must  be the guiding doctrine  on the  coalition deliberations just as common sense  guided  the  Serena  negotiations  on the  National Dialogue on Peace and Reconciliation.

Whatever Kenyans see and hear from the lips of some parliamentarians during  debates on  national issues including the implementation of reform proposals  by the  National Accord are mind boggling and spine  chilling. Parliamentarians argue that Kenya is a sovereign State and cannot be lectured by foreigners on governance. Such leaders who claim that the Executive is supreme have no business being in the legislative body and their constituents are objects of pity.
Legal minds bored the  audience  with stale  tales on the legality of the eviction of  squatters in the  water catchment  area of Mau  and  the reappointment of three  directors of the  Kenya Anti Corruption  Commission (KACC) contrary to established procedure.

President Mwai Kibaki’s gazettement of the appointment behind Parliament and the Advisory Board was proper and calls for no objection from any quarter, one senior MP claimed.

But these MPs and   public servants are right in defying authority. They are copying leaders who are in the habit of going against the  laws they have enacted. The Attorney General defied a  court order  to pay Nyayo House  torture  victims  token compensation  until the  beneficiaries threatened  court  action. So would Ringera be wrong in acting the way he does?

The mere fact that the Constitution empowers the President to appoint ministers without question or vetting does not entitle him to go against Parliament and the Constitution. The President and his Cabinet hold those positions by virtue of being members of Parliament and therefore, they are bound by House rules and Standing Orders.
A new Constitution and other proposed reforms mean an end to impunity, lawlessness and taming of rogue politicians. No wonder the proposals are meeting stiff opposition from tribal chauvinists masquerading as future presidential candidates. 

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New tribal and regional  alliances  are emerging  daily  as part of a plot  to divide  Kenyan communities  and  reinforce  their suspicions of each  other ahead of 2012 elections. Tribal   leaders are back on the drawing board in a plot on how to remain relevant come another general election in 2012.

Tribal kings in leadership cloaks together with the issue-starved familiar political figures are behind the schemes to manipulate the public on their mission to   dominance and control of voters in their areas of jurisdiction. 

Already there is  a dress rehearsal  for more  of these shadow boxing  and accusations  doing the  rounds  in political rallies where Cabinet ministers  appear to differ  on issues as part  of a  plot to dupe the  gullible public  and  control   their tribal enclaves and to have a  bargaining platform in future coalition arrangements.

(The author  is a former  cabinet minister and  national leader of two major political parties, Kenya African National Union  and the Liberal Democratic  Party)


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