News 2008


Tackling Agenda Four

March 8, 2008


By Athman Amran

After the departure of former United Nations secretary-general, Mr Kofi Annan, the National Dialogue and Reconciliation team now faces the tedious task of finding long-term solutions to a host of problems responsible for the periodic violence in Kenya, especially at election time.

During his stay in which he helped the country strike a peace deal, Annan said there was need for fundamental changes to key institutions to prevent future violence.

"We cannot accept that periodically, every five years or so, this sort of incident takes place and no one is held to account. Impunity cannot be allowed to stand," he said in Nairobi.

One of the issues the National Dialogue and Reconciliation team is tackling under Agenda Four is to ensure the violence fermented by ethnic hatred experienced after the announcement of the presidential poll results on December 30, would never recur.

Nigerian diplomat, Prof Oluyemi Adeniji, who replaced Annan in the mediation talks, heads the National Dialogue team, comprising ODM and PNU/Government members.

The PNU team has Justice minister, Ms Martha Karua, Foreign Affairs minister, Mr Moses Wetangula and Mbooni MP, Mr Mutula Kilonzo. On the ODM side are Pentagon members Mr Musalia Mudavadi and Mr William Ruto, Aldai MP, Ms Sally Kosgei and Ugenya MP, Mr James Orengo.

Annan took the talks to the third and crucial political settlement stage, where President Mwai Kibaki and ODM leader, Mr Raila Odinga, signed a power sharing deal last week.

Agenda Four also covers the objective and purpose of the Grand Coalition government. The issues being addressed include the resetting of the more than 500,000 displaced people and ensuring sustainable peace, security and justice and the comprehensive review of the Constitution.

The National Dialogue and Reconciliation team is expected to address historical injustices that include unfair land distribution, State sanctioned land "grabbing" and unequal share of the national cake, where development, employment and education among other issues are concerned.

Past cases of impunity are also to be dealt with.

This would include cases of grand corruption and formation of terror gangs by politicians. There is also the issue of irresponsible speeches and actions deemed as inciting, which led to clashes among Kenyans.

The team is also tasked with establishment of a truth, peace, justice, and reconciliation commission within three months. This outfit is to secure national healing and reconciliation following the post-election skirmishes. This would target victims and perpetrators of ethnic and political violence that rocked the country for more than two months.

The toughest assignment the team must undertake is the comprehensive review of the Constitution. This will chart the country’s future path after the end of the Grand Coalition Government. A new Constitution is expected to be in place in 12 months.

This will have ended a journey that Kenyans began more than 12 years ago.

There has been clamour for a new Constitution after the repeal of Section 2 A of the current constitution under retired President Moi’s government, which returned the country to multi-party politics in 1992.

When the Narc Government came to power after defeating Kanu in the historic 2002 General Election, it promised Kenyans a new Constitution within 100 days.

This was never to be as a new clique of leadership around President Kibaki rejected the Bomas Draft, because it would have given Raila the position of executive Premier.

The clique around President Kibaki came up with the "Wako" Draft, which was defeated at the referendum in 2005 by the Orange group led by Raila’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and Uhuru Kenyatta’s Kanu.

The comprehensive review of the Constitution would still have to revisit the issue of the executive Prime Minister and devolution among other thorny issues.

Corruption is another thorny issue being addressed under Agenda Four. This would be through the establishment of "effective policies and programmes".

The judicial system and the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission have largely been seen as ineffective in tackling corruption. They are yet to convict suspects in gigantic financial scams like Goldenberg and Anglo Leasing.

Poverty is another issue the new Government is expected to tackle.

The Narc government’s dream of creating 500,000 jobs annually turned into a nightmare when it not only failed to create such jobs but also succeeded in making the rich richer and the poor poorer. Prices of essential items like maize flour, sugar and paraffin skyrocketed, beyond the reach of the common mwananchi.

Further, the Grand Coalition Government is also expected, within six months, to establish an independent police commission and reconstitute the electoral commission to make it answerable to Parliament.

Within the next 12 months, the new government is also expected to ensure an independent Judiciary and Parliament. It is expected to strengthen the overseer role of Parliament.

The Government is also to resettle the displaced people and reconstruct urban and rural areas destroyed during the violence that erupted.

The power sharing deal between Kibaki and Raila that Annan fostered, could be entrenched in the Constitution next week.

This is after the Government published two of the proposed Bills under the proposed National Accord and Reconciliation Act last Thursday. This would kick-start the whole process and usher in a new era in Kenya.

The National Accord and Reconciliation Bill and the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill seek to amend the Constitution to cater for the position of Prime Minister and two deputies.

The Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill stipulates that the leader whose party has majority MPs in Parliament will become Prime Minister. This automatically makes Raila the new Prime Minister, with all the trappings that go with the position.

PNU and ODM will each bag the position of deputy Prime Minister.

According to section 6 (3) of the National Accord and Reconciliation Act 2008 draft, the Prime Minister will coordinate and supervise the execution of the functions and the affairs of the Government.

This would include those of ministries and Government departments.

The Prime Minister would also coordinate the reform agenda of the new government and be the leader of Government business in Parliament.

The National Accord and Reconciliation Act’s first step would be to entrench the Grand Coalition Government comprising ODM and PNU as distinct political parties.

The Grand Coalition Government establishes ODM and PNU as equal partners according to section 3 (1) of a draft prepared by the Legal Working Group on Governance.

The Act stipulates that in the grand coalition Government, the leaders of the political partners would be responsible for the nomination of appointees to ministerial and assistant ministerial positions.

There would also be an equal representation in the government between the coalition partners, which would take into account the principle of portfolio balance.