Kenya’s Power-Sharing Accord: Some nagging questions

Elites share power and resources while ordinary Kenyans continue to suffer.

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Journalists followed the action from the safety of helicopters just as photographers follow migrations of Kenya’s wildlife.

To stop the mayhem, it has been suggested by Kofi Annan’s delegation that the opposition ODM and the government come up with not just with a peace accord, but with one enshrined in a changed constitution.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called for a governance arrangement that will allow real power-sharing. And so an accord was reached on Feb. 28. The deal provides for the creation of a prime minister’s post and two deputy prime ministers. The leader of the majority party , Odinga, would become prime minister, while Kibaki would retain the presidency.

The details of how the government will work are still mysterious, since the accord also calls for distribution of ministerial posts and civil service jobs according to the relative strength of each party in parliament.

The promise of the power-sharing accord is that politics in Kenya will no longer be a zero-sum game. But there are many ominous issues simmering below the present euphoria of a breakthrough.

First, brutality against innocent women and children and wanton destruction of property are all now officially in the books in Kenya as ways to seek political redress. What sort of precedent does this set?

Second, what happened to Kenya’s constitution? Is the judiciary of any use in Kenya now, after this debacle in which due process was shunted? Observers generally agree that rigging took place on both the opposition and the government sides. Should that pass uninvestigated by independent counsel? Crimes were committed. It is ironic that Condoleezza Rice said that it would be “difficult” for anyone to undermine the accord once it was made into a legal and constitutional document, when the enticle debacle hinged on disregard of the Kenya’s constitution.

Third, what happened to the rule of law? Will the hate speech that fueled the fire be called free speech? More than 1000 people were killed and over 300,000 displaced, yet there have been no arrests. Have those who grabbed a baby from a mother who was running out of the burning Eldoret church to throw it back into the fire been arrested?

Fourth, where is the official remorse? The unwillingness of leaders (political, civil, and religious) to unequivocally call for an end to violence and hate when the fires went up was extremely unsettling. There is no talk about national reconciliation and healing — only the sharing of power! The raped, the bereaved, the dispossessed are yet to be mentioned in the ‘power-sharing accord.’ They are collateral damage, until next time!

Finally, what will be the legacy of this violence? Will Kenyans remember politicians rigging an election, or will we remember vengeful thugs killing while the political elite –who could have stopped the violence — provided the cover of ‘pin-drop-silence’? Could it be that the legacy will be the unspoken travail of horrors of the raped, the bereaved, the maimed, the dispossessed persons betrayed by their gender, age, and ethnicity?