News 2008


Letís think beyond coalition government


Saturday Nation

16. 02. 2008

The chief mediator in the ongoing talks to restore peace and order in the country yesterday gave the clearest hint that coalition government is the only way out of the current political stand-off. Mr Kofi Annan was categorical that under the prevailing conditions, all the parties must work together in a coalition government to enact laws that allow for the desired constitutional, judicial, political and economic reforms.

And all parties are agreed to that. What remains are the details and the composition of the coalition government. For that reason, ODM and PNU negotiators have undertaken to consult their party leaders and return with concrete proposals to the negotiating table on Tuesday. To add weight, Mr Annan wants to meet President Kibaki and Mr Raila Odinga on Monday to get their concurrence on the proposed coalition government and also to prevail on them to give clear instructions to their negotiators on the way forward.

Although Mr Annan did not elaborate on the proposals on the governance structure, what is in the public domain is that ODM wants a power-sharing deal that provides for an executive prime minister, who is answerable to Parliament, while PNU wants a prime minister without executive powers and who is appointed by the President. Considering the two positions, what is sticking out is the distribution of power and this has been the subject of public outcry over the national leadership. Concentrating powers in one institution, namely the presidency, is antithetical to development of a modern state.

Whereas power sharing may be the best alternative in the prevailing circumstances, we must not lose sight of the fact this country is multiparty by law, the basis of which is to create checks and balances. The proposed arrangement, therefore, should be short-term and pave the way for a more broader and wholesome law review that addresses all the constitutional, social, political and economic upheavals that have dogged this nation since independence.

Both President Kibaki and Mr Odinga must be magnanimous and courageous in tackling the challenges ahead. The political crisis solution is in their hands.