new lows for Kenyan politics

The battle lines have been drawn for a showdown in the Kenyan parliament tomorrow. Most reasonable Kenyans, including the current Chief Justice, the Attorney General (Mr. Kibaki’s government legal adviser) and Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs oppose the move by a faction allied to Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto to censure the speaker and shove president Kibaki’s questionable nominations to constitutional offices down Kenyans’ throats.

The media owners association, the Law Society of Kenya, and most of the Kenyan civil society have also rejected the unconstitutional nominations.

I have defended President Kibaki numerous times. I believe that it is because of his leadership style that Kenyans have experienced a resurgence of self-confidence that had long been lost after the fiasco that was 1966.

That said, I find his present actions deplorable. President Kibaki has chosen to risk plunging Kenya back into the abyss because of two of his lieutenants who masterminded the chaos that killed 1300 Kenyans and displaced hundreds of thousands. President Kibaki has chosen to spend public money and resources in defending this same duo. President Kibaki may also have been aware that state resources were used by his second wife and daughter to facilitate drug-trafficking. I stand disillusioned. For far too long I saw in the son of Othaya a Mang’u Man above petty the politics and mediocrity that characterizes Kenya’s political class. I may have been wrong.

The Kenyan presidency has been hijacked by Messrs Francis Muthaura and Uhuru Kenyatta. My only hope is that as they begin their descent for their sins from 2007-8 they do not take the rest of Kenya with them. I also hope that Mr. Kibaki will listen to the rest of Kenya, including the many bright legal minds allied to him, and rescind his wapende wasipende nominations.

His co-principal Mr. Odinga should also show some restraint and engage in grown-up politics. Engaging in a food fight with Mr. Kanyatta will not do Kenya any good.

Macharia Gaitho of the Daily Nation writes:

The crude personalised attacks both are displaying illustrate the depths to which Kenyan politics has sunk. Prime Minister Odinga and Deputy Prime Minister Kenyatta are demonstrating that they are truly the sons of their fathers.

They are privileged scions of the political and mercantile elite who got the best education money could buy and the richest heirlooms that could come out of public service, but when cornered, they abandon all pretence at cosmopolitan sheen and retreat to atavistic and crude ethnic demagoguery.

The saddest thing is that it might not just be a fight between two spoilt and overgrown brats, but a much wider one that carries their respective communities along.

The ordinary Luo or Kikuyu stands to gain absolutely nothing by hoisting Mr Odinga or Mr Kenyatta to reach the fruit. That fruit will not be shared, but kept within the family, as amply demonstrated by Kenyatta and Odinga Mark 1.

Yet you can bet that when it comes to reactions to the current Odinga-Kenyatta brickbats, it is the ordinary and downtrodden Kikuyu and Luo who will be incited to come out most rabidly in support of their man.

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