It is time the EAC summit intervened in Kenya crisis



JF-Expert Member
Nov 22, 2007


JF-Expert Member
Joined Nov 22, 2007
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An east african perspective

I do not want to be alarmist but at the same time I would like to believe that I am a realist.

The truth of the matter is that Kenya is slowly snow-bowling into a political crisis. It is no longer if, but when the entire political structure, the coalition government will come tumbling down. This is why we need the urgent intervention of heads of state of East Africa to arrest the situation and restore sanity between President Mwai Kibaki and prime minister Raila Odinga.

The tragedy is that if this coalition government collapses now, before Kenyans get a new constitution and try suspects of the 2007 violence, the country will be ungovernable. I know a number of my friends will think I am mad and alarmist, but by the look of things, Kenya may become another Somalia with Nairobi another Mogadishu.

And there are signs that some individuals in some communities are already preparing for chaos. Recent discovery of large caches of ammunitions and thousands of bullets in the Rift Valley towns of Kajiado and Narok not to mention guns in the eastern part of Nairobi can only point in one direction; that there will be disaster in Kenya in the near future.

I know one coalition partner has already appealed to the African Union (AU) for intervention as the other denies there is any crisis at all. While the former would make sense, the latter would rather bury its head in the sand and pretend that all is well.

Other than Mwai Kibaki and Raila Odinga’s political differences, the most dangerous people to watch are the political minions that normally coalesce around the two principals. Some of these people are mere appendages that follow politicians all over the place fuelling fires of discord. Without any defined roles in the coalition, they are the ones that are quick to call press conferences to condemn opponents, even when some of them have pending court cases against them. It is these type of characters that an interim government that is non-political should flush out and array in courts on charges of incitement and public disorder.

For comparative purposes, the Kenyan situation resembles that of Zimbabwe where Robert Mugabe and prime minister Morgan Tzvangirai have never found a formula for co-existence since they signed a similar accord a year after Kenya. We may recall that prior to and after the Harare Accord, it has been the business of the SADDC countries to mediate the Zimbabwe crisis, something that they have handled with a lot of measurable success.

Now is the time for the East African Community (EAC) states to come in and take over the mediation efforts of the so- called eminent African persons. The Annan group has been effective in the past, but the Kenyan case is like a chronically sick patient that needs a doctor’s constant supervision. Visiting consultants that are not on call may not be the best for Kenya’s condition that is deteriorating fast with each passing day.

A part from being good neighbours, the EAC member states have another more important stake in Kenya’s internal affairs. Kenya is by law a member of the East African community with functional protocols signed. Some of those protocols include a regional assembly, court, a customs union and recently the common market.

As it is, Kenya’s is the biggest economy in East Africa. Its collapse for whatever reason means the collapse of all the other economies in the region. This is a risk that no member states can ill afford at this point in time, when world economies are struggling to get out of the economic crunch.

Since the longest Trans Africa trading route stretches from the Kenyan port of Mombasa through Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and the DRC, not to mention northern Tanzania and Southern Sudan, any instability in Kenya will have direct impact on the lives and economies of millions of people in the Great Lakes region.

Let us recall with shame and sadness when violence broke out in Kenya in late 2007 and early 2008. When thugs, militias and goons took over the trading routes to the rest of western Kenya, central and Rift Valley, all of a sudden, the economies of Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and the DRC went into a spin.

My take on this unfolding political stalemate is that if the Kibaki–Raila coalition cannot work, then the EAC, with help from the AU and the UN, must force an early election so that Kenya can begin to perform again.

Short of an early election that may extend Kibaki’s term to 2015, the other option will be to dissolve this government, form a caretaker government run by the speaker of the national assembly for the remaining life of this government with technocrats to midwife the constitution and oversee other institutional reforms in the pipeline.

However, as we form an interim government, other functions of government like the prosecution of corruption cases together with arrests and trial of warlords at The Hague must be continued, even if it means using international agencies to flush them out of their hideouts in their villages.

Short of these seemingly drastic measures, Kenya will slide into lawlessness as we watch.

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