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Kenyans Begin New Year Disappointed Yet Optimistic About Their Condition

A year ago, in December 2007, Kenyans went to the polls to elect a president, but the country was plunged into post-election chaos. Following months of negotiations, a coalition government was put into place. As the country enters 2009, Kenyans are said to be unhappy that the government has not moved fast enough to fulfill some of the promises it made.

For example, Kenyans are said to be reeling from the high cost of food and fuel prices, ethnic and sectarian interests are still said to be rampant. In his new year’s message, President Mwai Kibaki reportedly told Kenyans his government was determined to make the cost of food affordable.

Grace Akumu, former chairperson of the National Governing Council of the African Peer Review Mechanism for Kenya told VOA Kenyans are entering the New Year disappointed with their government.

“The government of President Kibaki still wants to take it all as if he was the real winner of the election. They have also not fulfilled all the agreements in the national reconciliation accord. For example Article No. 4 which deals with de-ethnicization of public service has not been dealt with. Kenyans are still seeing that appointment to the civil service is still dominated by one ethnic community and other state jobs. Secondly as you know majority live on less two dollars, so they are affected by the high inflation. Therefore, last year 2008 has not been a very good year for us. So we are glad to see it behind us, and we hope that 2009 will be a better year,” she said.

In his New Year day message, President Mwai Kibaki reportedly called on Kenyans to let 2009 be a year of renewal, reconciliation, justice, and forgiveness. He also said his government was determined to make the cost of food affordable.

Akumu said Kenyans are apprehensive about President Kibaki’s promises because he had not lived up to his previous promises.

“Right from when he became president from 2002, he had not lived up to his word. So Kenyans have no hope at all in what he’s saying. We cannot believe him; we don’t trust him,” Akumu said.

She said Kenyans have very little to celebrate as they usher in the New Year.

“The fact that we are not fighting doesn’t mean that we are very, very happy. We are not very happy, one our fellow citizens, brothers and sisters are still in the internally displaced camps. Secondly, these leaders seem to be content for power, power has again entered their heads so they are moving very slowly. But we hold the head of state responsible because he snatched power. Let him now fulfill the promises that he has made to Kenyans,” she said.

Akumu, the former chairperson of the National Governing Council of the African Peer Review Mechanism for Kenya, said Ghana once had an enviable peer review mechanism.

But now Akumu said she was praying that Ghanaians would not suffer the same post-election violence that Kenyans suffered following their December 2007 election.

“It’s so sad for us because yesterday I sent a couple of messages to my NGO colleagues in Accra to tell them that they should pray very hard, that they should not repeat the foolish mistakes that we made here. You know, these days what goes around comes around very quickly because it is the outgoing head of state John Kufuor in Ghana that came here to help us solve our problem. And now it’s happening right at his door step. So we hope he will be a better statesman not to try and force his party to win at the expense of the opposition NDC,” Akumu said.