Who would have thought back in 2002 that it was under a Kibaki presidency that Kenya would experience violence and chaos of the magnitude being reported in the news? Who would have guessed that Kibaki, the gentleman of Kenyans politics, would be the one being accused (whether justly or not) of rigging elections and trying to unlawfully hang onto power?
As Kenyans deliberate among and within themselves on the way forward, it is important to reflect on the causes of the existing mayhem and establish some truths. At the risk of sounding too simplistic, I am of the opinion that the existing anarchy in Kenya is as a result the lack of strong, impersonal institutions.
The lack of strong institutions handed the country a compromised electoral commission, full of appointees of the same person running for re-election. It was always obvious who the commissioners would side with in the event of a disputed outcome as was seen last Sunday. It therefore came as no surprise that while admitting that there were irregularities and suspicious figures on the tallying sheets, the commission did not order a recount or complete audit but proceeded to declare the president the winner base on the same questionable figures.
The lack of a culture of independent institutionalism has also made the opposition wary to present their case in the Kenyan high court, yet another institution teeming with the president’s appointees. In fact it is this lack of faith in the judiciary that left Kenyans no alternative but to resort to justice by the masses, which has unfortunately been laced with rioting, murder, ethnic confrontations and looting.
As the politicians get ready to have dialogue and possibly come up with a power sharing arrangement, on top of the agenda should be a clear and genuine commitment to the creation of impersonal institutions that will serves Kenyans well. It is of paramount importance that Kenyans develop confidence in the country’s institutions in order to avert situations when citizens take the law into their own hands – as we are witnessing now.
It is also important for Kenyans to realize that they cannot afford to take the back seat and let the politicians “institutionalize” tribalism. Kenyans should unite in their opposition to ethnic polarization because the country needs all its citizens in its quest for economic and social development. The just concluded elections have shown that it is quite possible for Kenyans of different ethnicities to come together for a common cause. Wananchi should be proud of this fact and not let the politicians take it away from them.