Breaking News: There is a virtual news blackout in Kenya on what is really happening on the ground outside Nairobi and major towns. Yesterday at about 5 pm a bus coming from Kisumu and headed for Nairobi was ambushed at Naivasha and the passengers were attacked with Machetes and Pangas. It is not clear how many people were injured or if there were any deaths.
As you read this Mwai Kibaki is in the process of forming a government of national unity. The big question is whether this is going to work in resolving the Kenyan crisis. I will be answering that question in a minute.
The option of power sharing has greatly been favored by Britain and the United States and indeed it is believed that Kibaki made this announcement shortly after a meeting with Jendayi Frazer a diplomat who flew into Nairobi yesterday with very specific instructions from the State department to find a solution to the crisis as quickly as possible. Therein lies one of the mistakes in trying to resolve the Kenyan crisis. It has been assumed that this is a simple tribal tensions problem that can be resolved quickly.
Actually the ideal solution should have involved dividing everything into two priorities. The first priority should have been to stop the killings and the second should be to deal with the root problem of the tensions that brought about the whole problem in the first place so that it does not happen again. But the world rarely seeks ideal solutions. So what is happening is that there is plenty of diplomatic pressure to bring a quick end to the crisis.
Why exactly are Britain and the US so interested in what is happening in Kenya. Darfur went on for weeks before anybody paid any attention. Kenya got attention immediately. Why?
As you read this the entire region surrounding Kenya is in a mess. Raw materials not being able to reach factories in Tanzania has slowed down production. The price of petrol has shot up dramatically in Uganda and there are serious shortages of the same in Rwanda. Aid which all goes through Kenya has been delayed to Somalia, Congo, Sudan etc. causing great suffering. In other words the economies in the entire region and beyond would be greatly affected if Kenya shuts down. Kenya slipping into total chaos would actually be a major catastrophe because many Western powers have major interests scattered all over the region which are heavily dependent in some way to Kenya and will not operate when Kenya is shut down.
With that information you can begin to imagine the kind of pressure that Raila Odinga and especially Mwai Kibaki are having to soak in even as you read this. Interestingly Kibaki seems to have misread the whole situation at the beginning because the BBC says that he refused to invite the Ghanaian president into the country even after being told that he would lead an International mediation team. Kibaki is of the view that this is a “small internal issue” that does NOT need any outside mediation. Well, these guys are serious and they seem to have gotten him to change his mind, even if it is just a little bit, because today the president had a lengthy meeting with diplomat Jendayi Frazer.
But credit for the big breakthrough to State House has to go to locals, Bethuel Kiplagat, Lazarus Sumbeiywo and two other concerned Kenyans who took the initiative to invite Bishop Desmond Tutu to Kenya to mediate for peace. He ended up being the first international mediator to actually get an audience with Kibaki.
Let me take this opportunity to pay tribute to the following gallant Kenyans meeting right now at the Cellar (Kilimani)
J. H. R MURIGU - murigu(at)suntra.co.ke
CLIFF MUKULU - cliff.mukulu(at)rentworks.co.ke
KEN MBWAYA - ken.mbwaya(at)hp.com
PATRICK NGENGA - patrick_ngenga(at)wvi.org
MOSES MWAURA - mkmwaura(at)gmail.com
JAGI GAKUNJU - jgakunju(at)aar.co.ke
MOSES NDERITU - mnderitu(at)level1.co.ke
MUCAI KUNYIHA - mkunyiha(at)coopers.co.ke
JOHN KASHANGAKI - jkashangaki(at)sba.co.ke
MAINA KARANJA - adijai(at)wananchi.com
The fact is that they have taken the initiative like the Bethuel Kiplagat group to try and find a solution. In my view the fact that they dared is the important thing and not how successful they end up being. Kudos, guys.
But having said that, my view is that a government of national unity will increase tensions rather than reduce them. How does anybody expect Mwai Kibaki and Raila Kibaki to run a government when they can’t be in the same room without the room temperature cimbing considerably? And besides the hungry common man will not understand it. They are the vast majority and they are the key to solving this crisis. All they want to see to put their pangas down is Raila in State house as president.
Already Raila Odinga has ruled out the idea and called for negotiations instead.
The saddest thing in all this is the fact that everybody seems to have missed the point that the current violence is about the hungry common man losing hope. That is why the violence will be so difficult to halt in any other way other than Kibaki leaving office.
What makes matters even worse is that we are beginning to see evidence of revenge attacks like the Naivasha bus attack. It may already be too late…
P.S. Kivuiti is constitutionally mandated to fix the problem. He can annul the results. Read this eye-opener of an article.