Parliament pledges to spearhead
search for peace
Story by ODHIAMBO ORLALE
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
The National Assembly, under the auspices of the Amani Forum, he
added, had also established a reconciliation and peace-building
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.
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.