Kenyans are reportedly worried about the ongoing rift between President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga over granting amnesty to perpetrators of post-election violence. Kenya’s police say over 137 people have been arrested and charged with capital offenses among others in connection with the post election violence. This comes after President Kibaki reportedly said those who were engaged in the destruction of lives and property would face the full rigors of the law. But Prime Minister Odinga dissented saying those arrested by police were freely demonstrating and should be granted amnesty.
Some political analysts say the deep rift within the government could potentially hamper developmental activities and reconciliation after the election dispute. Mustapha Ali is a Kenyan political analyst. From the capital, Nairobi he tells reporter Peter Clottey that Kenyans are unhappy about the ongoing rift in the government.
“Kenyans have received this news with mixed reaction. Government people, especially who are in the PNU (Party of National Unity) side, these young people broke the law and they must be charged in the court of law. If they are proven innocent then they can be released. But from the ODM (Orange Democratic Movement) side they are saying look these people, they did not break any law. The people who actually broke the law were the Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK) starting from Justice Samuel Kivuitu. And that these young people were just demonstrating and that democratic process has been suspended or stolen from them,” Ali noted.
He said Kenyans have suspected the coalition government between PNU and the ODM faces enormous challenges in working together.
“All along we’ve known that the coalition government, which includes the PNU and the ODM is going to be difficult, but what is making it even more difficult is the issue of amnesty. Both sides have very strong feelings about the amnesty issue,” he said.
Ali said with said some Kenyans are concerned the ongoing impasse would take a long time to be resolved.
“It would be very difficult. Most people’s worry is that it is like the chicken and egg situation. Which one comes first? On the ODM side, they say that look here these people fought for democracy, and that the PNU side stole the elections and used state machinery, had used the police to terrorize Kenyans and to kill the young people who were demonstrating. And in Kenya it is constitutional to demonstrate peacefully, and Raila is very clear on this… but from the PNU side they say that these people broke the law and they must be charged before the court of law,” Ali pointed out.
He said the Electoral Commission of Kenya should be blamed for the post-election violence that led to a lost of life and property.
“They are saying it begins with the Electoral Commission of Kenya. It is indeed. And according to most independent observers, it is the ECK that pulled the trigger that caused the mayhem that visited Kenyan after the general elections. And that independently there are some commissioners in Kenya including some civic organizations have lodged complaints with the police to press charges against the commissioners. And this is the same position that the ODM is taking that the 21 commissioners are the ones who should be first arrested and answer the charges about what happened during the counting of the votes. And in fact that is what caused the problem, and ODM is looking at the root cause of this problem,” he noted.