Unity team must set stage for national cohesion
The Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) taskforce is today expected to hand over its final report to President Uhuru Kenyatta and Opposition leader Raila Odinga, in what could open a new chapter in Kenya’s history.
The journey of forging a democratic and united society in Kenya has proved difficult since independence, and the BBI report provides a fresh opportunity for the country to chart an enduring path to reconciliation, healing and national cohesion.
In a society where ethnic diversity and competing political interests are deeply rooted, the Constitution remains a fundamental factor to achieving the ideals of democracy, unity and economic prosperity.
The BBI report, therefore, gives Kenyans a chance to engage in a national discourse reflecting on the obstacles that have made the country fail to adhere to the letter and spirit of the Constitution.
Will the leadership through BBI finally lead Kenyans across the bridge to the attainment of good governance, human rights and unity?
The terms of the BBI team were clearly spelt out and its composition was fairly representative of the cross-section of society.
That is why it was encouraging to see the team visit all the 47 counties and listen to more than 4,000 presentations. It is now incumbent upon the initiators of the report to present it to the people to allow a national discourse on its contents.
The most important aspect of this conversation will revolve around a review of the Constitution and an examination of the doctrine of separation of powers enshrined in the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary.
When President Uhuru and Raila called a truce that gave birth to the BBI, it was not lost on Kenyans that the rapprochement came after a protracted post-election fallout, an occurrence synonymous with general elections since the advent of multi-party politics.
The differences and power struggles that continue to characterise the political environment in every election cycle and have been the bane of national unity. Indeed, one of the pillars of the BBI was to make an attempt to cure the perennial disputes that emanate from elections.
Which takes us back to the previous attempts for electoral justice.
The National Accord of 2008 that resulted in the Kriegler Commission and the Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) must be revisited in the BBI dialogue for Kenyans to expect a positive outcome from the latest attempt at constitutionalism.
The accord steered by the late former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan crafted the roadmap that could lead to genuine reconciliation and healing that country now desperately needs more than ever before.
When the Constitution was promulgated in 2010, Kenyans hailed is enactment and celebrated the expansion of the democratic space. However, just nine years later, the fact that another constitutional review is in the offing begs several questions that BBI must answer.
The truth of the matter is that all the three arms of government have not lived up to the people’s expectations in adherence to the supreme law of the land, particularly the chapter on leadership and integrity.
When the public will finally get the chance to debate the BBI report, they must hold the political leaders to account for this dark stain on the national conscience.
Rebooting the Constitution to rectify leadership anomalies is of one goal that BBI must achieve. —[email protected]