Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Faith Leaders See No Easy Solution to the Political Impasse

Catholic Information Service for Africa (Nairobi)
15 January 2008
Posted to the web 15 January 2008

There is no easy way out of Kenya's current political crisis, a coalition of religious leaders said after meeting President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga last week.

The faith leaders, working under the Inter-Religious Forum (IRF), established that while the two sides accepted that the country is in a deep crisis and are ready for dialogue, they have mutual mistrust.

The sides also have important differences in their search for a solution. It would be impossible to strike a deal if they did not soften their positions.

Whereas the opposition Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) views the results of the Dec. 27 presidential elections as manipulated, President Kibaki's team says the poll was free and fair.

Secondly, the government's priority is restoration of peace, but ODM's greatest concern is resolution of the disputed results. On the procedure to do so, the president's team favours a court process while ODM wants an out-of-court settlement.

The faith leaders explored four tough options available to solve the crisis. The first is maintaining the status quo through use of security forces.
As a result, protests would continue, parliament could be paralyzed and the nation would be further polarized. There is also the likelihood of breakdown of law and order and the abuse of security forces by the state.

The second option is formation of a government of national unity
that includes ODM. While this could restore peace and start the healing process, it would kill effective opposition in parliament. The government would also be weakened by the ideological and policy differences of the partners.

The other alternative is re-tallying of the presidential votes.
But the results are unlikely to be accepted due to perceived tampering of the election documents. It also raises legal issues regarding who will order for the re-tallying as ODM has rejected a court process.

Finally, an independent body could be set up to oversee a presidential re-run.
This apparently is the best option as it would restore a sense of truth and justice locally and internationally.

However, the option faces serious legal and constitutional hurdles as only the High Court can order a re-run.

Copyright © 2008 Catholic Information Service for Africa. All rights reserved.
Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com).

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