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Analyst says Kenyan Political Leaders Must Set a Peacefull Example for Followers


As a political solution remains elusive in Kenya, analysts are following developments and suggesting action to solve the impasse. Among those following political developments is Professor Stephen Ndegwa, a visiting scholar at the UCLA Globalization Center.

From Los Angeles, California, he spoke to VOA’s Mwamoyo Hamza about what needs to be done to achieve a peaceful solution to the current crisis.

“I think it’s important for the principle leaders to first of all meet and be seen to be meeting to resolve the issue. That will signal to their followers and to the masses that there’s a legitimate path to create peace. But so long as they’re hardheaded, this signals to their followers that they can take the law into their own hands and that nothing will be solved except through violence, and that needs to be avoided,” he says.

The opposition is reluctant to trust President (Mwai) Kibaki, especially after he announced a new cabinet despite the political upheaval. Ndegwa says, “There are tremendous problems of trust and some of this goes back to 2002. I believe what President Kibaki and his party need to do is to provide some new confidence-building measures that would invite in ODM (party) and the opposition really to the negotiating table. But they cannot fruitfully achieve peaceful means through unilateral action,” says Ndegwa.

Asked how opposition leader and presidential candidate Raila Odinga can
put “peaceful pressure” on the government, he says, “I think some of it is what they’re trying to do to have peaceful rallies. And I think that’s entirely appropriate in a democratic setting. But they have to provide the correct signal to their followers that they do not condone or encourage violence. And I think that’s very important. And I really believe political leaders in Kenya can signal this in appropriate ways. But also for the police to be restrained so that if there’s no law being broken they really should not forcefully disperse legitimate assemblies.”

However, he also says Odinga has options, such as going to Parliament. “We have to remember ODM has the largest number of seats in Parliament. And Parliament in Kenya is very empowered. They can be able to push much of their agenda, including an accountability agenda, through Parliament. And that should not be forgotten.”

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