On the threshold of a
February 11, 2008
By Standard Team
It will be a unique political solution for Kenya that will be
unveiled this week if both sides at the Kofi Annan-led talks agree
to final details of a deal already on the table.
Both sides on Sunday gave hints of a power-sharing arrangement
tailored to bring both teams into Government, in a settlement
delicately balanced to end the post-election crisis, start the
healing and build on future stability.
This follows last week’s announcement by Annan of an impending
political solution, but details of how it would look like remained
Four leading political analysts were of the view that given the
delicate background behind which the Annan talks are taking place,
the expected power-sharing formula may not have to stick to
internationally established models but would be one made uniquely
for the Kenyan crisis.
The analysts were agreed that the most expected outcome of the
talks by Kenyans and politicians is a Government that leaves Mr
Mwai Kibaki as the President while creating another top
respectable executive position — like the Prime Minister — for Mr
They said for a fair deal to be seen to be struck, several ODM
members would have to be absorbed into the Cabinet, some as
assistant ministers, while Kibaki would have to cede some
executive authority to Raila.
Some of the agreements that may emerge in the talks would call for
constitutional amendments to accommodate positions that may be
Both Kibaki and Raila are understood to have heeded international
pressure and acceded to a demand to share power, the details of
which will this morning occupy the resumed sessions of the Kenya
National Dialogue and Reconciliation team.
But top politicians, including Raila, declined to speculate on the
final deal, though they were agreed that the final steps of a
political solution were in sight.
Raila, who spoke Sunday afternoon after attending a church service
at the All Saints Cathedral, said: "The mediation team agreed on a
political settlement and we support it. Details on the kind of
settlement will be out soon".
But asked who the beneficiaries of the joint government would be,
Raila remained tactically evasive: "We will give our proposals at
the negotiation table. We are not going to negotiate through the
media. At this point, I don’t know who is going into the
Government or who is going out, we have not reached that stage yet".
He said the two sides were still discussing who would lead the
government and what roles each party would play, and urged the
media to wait for official communication from the mediation team
sometime this week.
Finance minister Amos Kimunya, a close ally of President Kibaki,
indicated that the Government side was flexible to the proposal to
share power, even if it meant amending the constitution.
"We are willing to give this effort all our co-operation. When we
agree, the rest can be handled constitutionally," said Kimunya.
He added: "The Wako draft has the position of a Prime Minister
with certain responsibilities. It has worked in other countries,
including the neighbouring Tanzania, why can it not work here?"
Prof Peter Wanyande, the dean of political science at the
University of Nairobi (UoN), and Tom Ocholla, a political
scientist at the university, concurred that in an ideal
parliamentary system, the party with majority MPs would form the
government, with its leader becoming the executive prime minister.
But the two doubted that such a straightjacket system could be
applied in the Kenyan situation, saying that certain concessions
would have to be made.
Said Wanyande: "We must appreciate that if such a settlement were
to be reached here, it may include certain concessions that are
not necessarily typical of a parliamentary system. For the sake of
national healing, all parties could be brought on board in the
power sharing arrangement".
Ocholla said the president’s role was largely ceremonial in a
parliamentary system of government but he doubted that PNU would
cede that much ground.
"I doubt whether PNU would agree to an executive prime minister
with sweeping powers. I believe they are going to push for the
Tanzanian model where the prime minister enjoys limited powers,"
In Tanzania, the President is both the head of state and head of
government. The president appoints a prime minister who serves as
the government’s leader in the National Assembly.
Once the deal is struck, Ocholla suggested that the present
Cabinet be dissolved to pave way for a freshly reconstituted one
in line with the proposed agreement.
Multi-party democracy under threat
Lawyer and political scientist Paul Mwangi said the proposed
power-sharing could complicate the case for multi-party democracy.
First, Mwangi said, under the current Constitution Kenya is a
multiparty democracy. Second, executive power is vested in the
president, hence the proposed position of a prime minister must be
preceded by a constitutional overhaul.
As regards multiparty democracy, he argued that if ODM were to be
brought into government, that would "water down" this principle
and contradict what the opposition has fought for all along.
"Who then would be the leader of opposition if ODM were to join
Government? Clearly, ODM cannot be both in Government and in the
opposition," he posed.
To sidestep the contradiction, he proposed a mechanism for a
Government of National Unity that would allow opposition chiefs to
be part of government.
"Even then, we should find out a way of constituting an opposition
because leaders of the three big parties would then be in
Government," he concluded.
Another political scientist, Dr Chris Abong’o, said whatever
balance would be struck between the two sides, Annan’s team must
strive to come out with a ‘win-win’ scenario.
"For the sake of healing and reconciliation, no side should be
seen to come out wielding the big stick over the other. It should
be a ‘win-win’ for both," said Dr Abong’o.
The ‘win-win’ formula was also echoed by visiting Anglican
Archbishop of York in the United Kingdom.
"I am appealing to Kofi Annan to lead the process into a ‘win-win’
solution for both sides," said Archbishop Sentamu at the All
Saints Cathedral. He has already met Raila and Justice minister
On where a shared government leaves the opposition, both Prof
Wanyande and Ocholla had varied views.
Said Ocholla: "The fate of the opposition certainly is an issue of
legitimate concern that is not being addressed seriously in case
of a power sharing deal."
Ocholla, however, noted that there could be a silver lining to the
arrangement given that the parties involved hold radically
different ideological differences.
"This factor perhaps will provide internal checks and balances
within Government. Moreover, the fact that both parties would seek
to meet their respective pledges to the electorate would
discourage wayward behaviour," he argued.
But Wanyande differed, saying the power-sharing arrangement would
not necessarily deal a deathblow to multi-party politics "because
there is no opposition to speak about in the first place".
He explained that ODM was locked in a bitter electoral dispute
with PNU over who won the elections and hence had not accepted to
assume the role of the official opposition party.
Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka, who had spoken a day earlier, said
the matter of power-sharing needed further discussion to ensure it
did not conflict with the Constitution.
"Our Constitution is very clear that Kenya is a multiparty state.
This means that what is arrived at protects this cherished ideal,"
Other politicians who welcomed the power sharing deal included
Laikipia East MP Mr Mwangi Kiunjuri
"I think it would be a good idea if it is the only solution to
unlock the political impasse," said Kiunjuri, who declined to
Seven ODM MPs from Nyanza and Western have indicated that any
proposed joint government with PNU should reflect the strength of
The MPs, who on Sunday toured Western to assess the impact of
post-election violence, pointed out that ODM should have a major
stake owing to its strength in Parliament.
The MPs included Dr Oburu Odinga (Bondo), Mr Ababu Namwamba (Budalangi),
Mr Manyala Keya (Lurambi), Dr Simiyu Eseli (Kimilili), Mr Fred
Outa (Nyando) and Mr Alfred Odhiambo (Butula).