WANEP urges AU to re-engage Kenyatta and Odinga

Raila Odinga and Uhuru Kenyatta

The West Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP), Africa’s largest peacebuilding organisation, has called on the African Union (AU) to re-engage Kenya’s two leaders as part of efforts to resolve the unfolding political crises in that country.

Dr Chukwuemeka B. Eze, the Executive Director of WANEP, described as very unfortunate the ‘self inauguration’ of Mr Raila Odinga, the leader of the National Super Alliance (NASA) as the ‘People’s President’ of Kenya at a controversial “swearing-in” ceremony in Nairobi, on Tuesday, January 30.

It would be recalled that President Uhuru Kenyatta was sworn in for a second term on November 28, 2017, after winning an election re-run in October, 2017, which was boycotted by Mr Odinga.

The Kenya 2017 general election was first held in August, but the Supreme Court ordered a re-run, saying Mr Kenyatta’s victory was marred by irregularities.

Dr Eze, in an interview with the Ghana News Agency on Thursday said, Odinga’s ‘self inauguration’ was quite unfortunate, because Kenya had gone through some legal battle leading up to their 2017 general election, becoming the first African country that had its presidential election overturned by the Supreme Court.

He said looking at what happened in 2007, the actors involved in the election, should have come to terms and chartered a new course for the people of Kenya.

“I do not think the people of Kenya deserve another round of killings and displacement and all that comes with conflicts,” Dr Eze said.

“Kenya is still largely a divided country along ethnic lines and I had thought that the two key actors involved, whose parents have also led Kenya at various times, should have ensured no iota of violence, and chart the course of the conciliation, being the figures that the citizens are looking up.”

He said, “Now as I speak to you, the population is increasing and they are all coming from the suburbs where former Prime Minister Raila Odinga had his major supporters and along ethnic lines again and that is exactly how the 2007 conflict started.”

He said by Odinga declaring himself as the president of the people, swearing himself in, under that bizarre circumstances, it was something that the African leaders need to step in immediately, otherwise it would lead to another round of untoward hardship in Kenya.

He said the Kenyan state has declared Odinga’s ‘self inauguration’ as null and void, because there was no constitutional court that had pronounced him president.

“He (Odinga) is aware within the limit of his own intelligence, he is aware that he is going against the constitution. But that also does not remove the fact the people of Kenya are disenchanted by the system”.

Referring to the crowd that attended Mr Odinga’s ‘self inauguration’, Dr Eze said: “If you look at the population that came out, it also informs you of how disappointed the people of Kenya are. I think it is important to look at it both legally and more importantly, how does that get addressed by the current government.”

This is the time that AU needs to apply its preventive diplomacy tactics, because of the history of violence in the not too recent past.

In 2007, a lot of people died in Kenya as a result of this same assault.

So this is the time for AU to use its preventive diplomacy to arrest the situation.

Dr Eze said the East African Economic Community also needs to play a very important role here; stating that “this is the time to show good neighbourhood and also prevail on these two leaders to eschew violence and move on”.

“I think there are other ways that the former Prime Minister Raila Odinga can serve his country, rather than being a president at this particular point in time”.

The Executive Director urged the citizens of Kenya, to also learn from their own experience; adding that “but more importantly the current government should find a way to reach out to people”.

“The population that came out and they are still out there, is something that gives you an impression of a people that is disenchanted. And I think that any responsible government should try as much as possible to show their path of reconciliation,” he added.

Dr Eze said: “It is important that African leaders allow the mandate of the people to prevail, but more importantly government should also be seen as a tool for reconciliation, rather than further dividing people along ethnic and along political lines”.

“The height of ethnicity in Kenya is what informs the voting patterns and that is what continues to divide the people in various forms.”

Source: GNA

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