The Kofi Annan brokered deal signed in February 2008 in Kenya brought President Kibaki and his political opponent Raila Odinga together in what seemed like an inevitable conclusion in a country reeling from an electoral stalemate that saw over 1,500 Kenyans dead and hundreds of thousands displaced.Internally displaced people in a camp in Eldoret. Priority must be given to the prompt and unequivocal resettlement of the displaced families.April 21, 2008: The Kofi Annan brokered deal signed in February 2008 in Kenya brought President Kibaki and his political opponent Raila Odinga together in what seemed like an inevitable conclusion in a country reeling from an electoral stalemate that saw over 1,500 Kenyans dead and hundreds of thousands displaced.Some semblance of peace has been restored, although for all its intents and purposes it creates more of a power maze in Kenya’s already redundant political lexicon.
However even within this maze, it is really ironic that for the Kenyan leadership, the first order of business is not a full redress for those who bore the brunt of the post-election clashes, but an adjudication and division of power.As the tensions simmer it is sad that the bickering on how to accommodate who in what position has over-taken the immediate agenda of rescuing the country from more certain violence.Violence in Kenya runs deep. It is the only constant in the country’s memory. This is precisely because violence is symptomatic of the country’s major ailments stemming from the political, economic and social inequalities. Indeed it is about landlessness 42 years after independence, the abject denial of access to the means of production and sustenance, lack of adequate housing, comprehensive health and human dignity.
It is also about justice.
There are many atrocities and political crimes that demand resolution if the country is to actually move forward and avoid a repeat of the post-election violence. Justice is a sure way of beginning to heal a nation. The authors of the Wagalla massacres where 400 Kenyan men were butchered must be prosecuted.Those who planned and executed the ethnic clashes in 1992 and 1998 (where about 1,500 Kenyans were killed and thousands displaced) must be prosecuted and punished before the law.Who will answer for the hundreds of lives lost after the December 2007 elections? The reported cases of battery and rape of women on campaign trails preceding the December elections must also be fully investigated without prejudice or fail! The internationally sanctioned and euphoric bugle of forgive and forget, rampant in Kenya’s history, must of necessity be brought to a halt. The peace deal should not be about by wiping out memories, tragedies or betrayals. Rather it can be a chance platform from which to punish the instigators and perpetrators of the ethnic violence.The country’s past is filled with injustice and now would be a good time to revisit that chequered history right to the beginnings of the formation of the nation-state, including the betrayal of the freedom fighters. Indeed it is important to politically dissect the Jomo Kenyatta era and debunk the myth of the founding father.The inequalities, state murders, land-grabbing, detentions without trial, ethnic isolation and massacres which greatly defined his rule must be fully addressed and resolved.
The violence must be looked into by addressing the root causes and bringing to book those who engineer these crimes. This could act as a deterrent and also serve some justice to the families who have lost loved ones.A wounded nation cannot heal unless medication is administered to the sick and preventative measures taken to avoid contracting the same ailment. It is no longer prudent to set up commissions of inquiry to investigate whether a commission of inquiry on crimes against humanity is needed.They do not serve justice and they do not work. In fact they only buy time until the next crisis for which another commission is appointed and the partisan and unproductive cycle begins again.
*In the meantime priority must be given to the prompt and unequivocal resettlement of the displaced families in Kenya. This is urgent!