In Summary
  • The BBI task force should keep in mind that a solution to the ethnic antagonism and violent politics demands more than accommodation between two protagonists.
  • Even if the office of Prime Minister is brought back, the Constitution will not say that it is the preserve of Mr Odinga or anyone else.

The Building Bridges Initiative Task Force will soon present its report to President Uhuru Kenyatta and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga.

The team will not quite meet its target of completing the task by the end of this month, but even if it goes to the first week of October it will still deserve a hearty round of applause.

Getting things done ahead of schedule is just not the Kenyan thing. However, applause for beating a deadline is one thing. More important will be judgment on the actual value of the process.

We must all hope that the merry men and women of the Task Force surprise us with a report that sticks faithfully to the agenda established when the President and his erstwhile rival shared that famous handshake on March 9 last year.

Too much time in the intervening period has been wasted in sterile political contestation around the quest for power instead of the noble objectives.

REFLECT

Many looking forward, either with hope or trepidation, expect that BBI will principally come up with formulas to reshape the national executive so that every major ethnic kingpin can be assured of a seat at the feeding trough.

There has been plenty of talk about bringing back the post of Prime Minister with two deputies under the guise of a more inclusive leadership instead of the winner-take-all presidential system.

There has also been a lot of pushing and shoving over expectation that such major constitutional changes will require a referendum.

We fail to see that arguing for or against a referendum is premature before we know what BBI will recommend.

But of course, the politicians engaged in those divisive shouting matches have no clue what they’re fighting over, except that they owe blind loyalty to either Mr Odinga or his main foe, Deputy President William Ruto.

It is thus important that we all step back and remind ourselves what Building Bridges was all about.

NINE-POINT AGENDA

When Mr Kenyatta and Mr Odinga shook hands at the steps of Harambee House, they unveiled a nine-point agenda.

It included addressing the scourge of ethnic antagonism,, inculcating a national ethos, entrenching inclusivity, and ironing out chinks in the devolved system of government.

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