Wednesday, January 30, 2008


Follow the law, Uhuru urges

NAIROBI, January 30 – ‘Respect institutions and follow due process'. This was the message Cabinet minister Uhuru Kenyatta delivered on Wednesday as the country sighed with relief as formal mediations to end the political crisis began.

A day after former United Nations Chief Kofi Annan launched talks between President Mwai Kibaki and Opposition leader Raila Odinga, Uhuru echoed widespread calls for peace saying that only ‘through dialogue and mechanisms in the law’ would the chaos subside in Kenya.

Speaking on Capital FM, Uhuru lamented the heavy toll that a month of violence had taken on the country and said regardless of the nature of the dispute, ‘death and destruction is not an answer.’

His prognosis was that there was much more ‘eating away at this country’ than the dispute surrounding poll results.

Uhuru said for the country to get out of the crisis, two broad issues of constitutional reforms and historic land disputes must be addressed.

Constitutional Reforms

The issue of a new Constitution has been a sore spot for Kenyans, compounded by failure of the 2005 draft document to sail through the national referendum.

“It is now abundantly clear that the time has come for us to stop playing games with the idea of a new constitutional disposition in this country, and not to use it to play politics one against another,” he exacted.

For the Gatundu South legislator the responsibility to give Kenyans the much needed new document fell squarely with the month-old 10th Parliament.

Uhuru said: “Parliament this time needs to sit down and engage in constructive dialogue, to be able to provide Kenyans with the constitutional framework that politicians have used to create the kind of atmosphere that we have today.”

Rift Valley’s Land Disputes

The Local Government Minister also heaped blame on long standing land disputes for the violence in Rift Valley, and asserted that only a comprehensive land reform policy will deal with the matter for once and for all.

“The issue of land should not be dealt with from the point of view of ethnicity, but from the need for a comprehensive land reform that allows us all equally, ready access to land for its productive capacity, not because this area or this zone belongs to this community or that community.”

Uhuru made the remarks in reference to the steadily growing cases of forceful eviction of certain communities from some parts of the country.

He said that Kenyans must be involved in the formulation of the policy to ensure it will be acceptable.

“What may have been suitable 20 or 30 years ago maybe needs to be looked at again; now taking into account the increase in population and the greater need for land around the country,”

But land remains a touchy topic and the Minister said murky as the waters may be, the issue must be discussed.

“Let’s not try to brush it under the carpet, let’s not destroy as a way of trying to think that we have resolved anything. All we’ve done is created refugees within our own country,” Uhuru said.

Truths from the Mediator

In view of the deep hostility that had boiled over since December 27th, Uhuru agreed with the Africa Union’s top mediator that Kenya’s problems wouldn’t just go away overnight. Annan said on Tuesday that it would take a year before the core issues of the violence were resolved.

Uhuru said: “What we need to do is recognise that they (problems) exist, to begin dealing with some of these issues and allow Kenyans to begin airing their thoughts and views and for us as leaders, to take these seriously and enact them into law.”

He underscored that the most important thing was that Kenyans created an environment for dialogue to take place.

“No matter how angry you are,” he said, ‘”you’re not going to get a solution by killing.”


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