Wednesday, January 4, 2012

We Need More Vigilance to Have Our Way in 2012

Lukoye Atwoli
 Sunday Nation 25 December 2011

At the beginning of this year, I shared in this column some of my hopes and wishes for Kenya. To illustrate just how much we remain in the same place despite the illusion of progress, let us review the extent to which these wishes were actualised in 2011.

The first wish was that the International Criminal Court (ICC) would finally make a decision on the culpability of the so-called Ocampo Six. As we enter the fifth year since the last General Election and the ensuing madness, we are still in the dark about the strength of the ICC prosecutor's case against these Kenyans. A ruling is set to be made early next month, and one hopes it will help to bring closure to this matter as we face an even more complex General Election.

The coming election is fraught with many uncertainties, with the electoral commission chairman vacillating between the possibility of an August date and a December date, while politicians are angling for an even later date some time in 2013. The High Court is expected to rule on this issue next month, and we can only hope that the ruling will conform to the letter and spirit of the Constitution and will not bend to the whims of our political class.

The second wish concerned the operationalisation of the Constitution through legislative action. Although Parliament literally rushed to beat constitutional deadlines mid this year, a lot still remains to be done.

Little more seriously 

Some laws passed in the rush were later discovered to have errors that would have been corrected had Parliament taken its job a little more seriously.

The third concern raised was that the hullaballoo about electoral boundaries had gone on for too long, and it was hoped that the matter would be resolved within the first few months of this year. Sadly, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has only recently been constituted, and the chairman has promised a report on new boundaries early next year. Given that it will be an election year, it is obvious that politicians will be at it again, fighting for turf as if they will hold their political posts all their lives.

Of all the wishes I had at the beginning of the year, only the fourth and final one was achieved. The government did not make any moves to implement the idea emanating from a section of Parliament that Kenya withdraws from the Rome Treaty and disengages from the ICC process.

However, in the course of the year, after a Kenyan court issued an arrest warrant for the President of Sudan on behalf of the ICC, the government went into a frenzy, accusing the courts of ignoring geo-political realities in their work. This probably played a role in the decision by the ICC to refer Kenya and some other African states to the United Nations Security Council and the Assembly of State Parties for possible sanctions.

In summary, despite some gains accruing from the enactment of a new Constitution, for many of our politicians, it is still business as usual. Unless we resolve to keep our leaders under an intense spotlight, all we have gained over the years will be lost to a political class that is completely out of touch with the strivings of the man on the street.

Dr Lukoye Atwoli is secretary, Kenya Psychiatric Association, and lecturer, Moi University School of Medicine.

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