News 2008


Parliament pledges to spearhead search for peace

Daily Nation


13. 02. 2008

Parliament will push the enactment of any constitutional or statutory changes aimed at bringing about lasting peace, reconciliation and national unity.

Speaker Kenneth Marende asked MPs to “roll up their sleeves” and spare no efforts to return Kenya to its former glory following post-elections violence that has left over 1,000 people dead and upwards 350,000 displaced.

But the Speaker, who was addressing an informal meeting of MPs at Old Parliament Buildings, cautioned them not to “seek easy and superficial solutions”, saying, they must be prepared to make the hard choices that would endure the test of time and ensure that neighbours never rise against each other in Kenya.

Ask difficult questions

Mr Marende reminded the MPs at the meeting, attended by Kofi Annan’s mediation team, that the experiences of last month should lead to some reflection on their part as the National Assembly.

The Speaker told more than 200 MPs at the meeting: “We must ask ourselves difficult questions. How well prepared are we to deal with situations of conflict? What role should the National Assembly play in this kind of situation? We need to commence immediately to build our own capacity in conflict management and resolution and disaster preparedness.”

He quoted the chairman of the United States House of Representatives committee on foreign affairs sub-committee on Africa and Global Health, Mr Donald M. Payne, saying: “What is happening in Kenya is not, and I repeat, is not an ethnic conflict. It is a political conflict with ethnic overtones.”

Mr Marende noted that if political leaders in Kenya do not make a serious effort to stop the violence now and address the systemic problems that exist in their political structures, the violence could reach a point of no return.

The Speaker said most MPs were elected because they told their constituents that they would do better than their predecessors and that they would make a difference.

The meeting was only open to the public at the introductory stage.

Mr Marende expressed his appreciation for the efforts of the eight PNU and ODM negotiators in seeking solutions to the post-election crisis that has engulfed the country since the presidential result was announced on December 30.

He reassured the Annan-led team that the National Assembly associated itself with its efforts and with other efforts — local and international — to ensure that Kenya reclaims her rightful place in the community of nations.

“The National Assembly is able, willing and ready to play its rightful role in finding sustainable and lasting peace for our country, anchored on truth, justice and reconciliation,” the Speaker said.

The National Assembly, under the auspices of the Amani Forum, he added, had also established a reconciliation and peace-building initiative.

The Speaker said that under that initiative, MPs across party lines had been visiting parts of the country that were hard-hit by violence and displacement and had been preaching forgiveness, peace and reconciliation. Mr Marende said he was glad to inform the meeting of MPs that all the areas visited had since witnessed a significant decline in violence.

Finance minister Amos Kimunya welcomed the informal talks, saying they had given MPs an opportunity to hear what Annan’s team had come up with in its roadmap to peace.

Promote co-existence

The minister said the MPs had all agreed to give peace a chance to support efforts to promote co-existence of people from different communities. Kisumu Town West MP Olago Aluoch, said he was happy with Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka for reassuring the meeting that the Government would fully support the mediation talks.

Bomet MP Kipkalya Kones, said the issue of a grand coalition government was not discussed at the meeting. He said because it was “very sensitive” it was left for the next meeting.

Naivasha MP John Mututho said he was happy with the meeting because it discussed the plight of the thousands of people who were displaced in his constituency.