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Urban Café with Miriam Angila


OPINION: It's time to build bridges across the political divides

By Odhiambo Nyamori on Tue, 21/11/2017 - 19:41

The Supreme Court of Kenya has now pronounced itself on the repeat Presidential elections. This brings to finality the long electioneering and litigation process surrounding the 2017 Presidential Elections.

President-Elect, His Excellency Uhuru M. Kenyatta and the Deputy President-Elect William S. Ruto, and their supporters, are definitely buoyed  by the judicial affirmation of the IEBC declaration of their team as the winners in this protracted contest. I congratulate them on this.

I firmly believe in the viability of the Kenyan state in a unitary but devolved system. As a citizen and in my own small way, I will therefore support genuine Government programs towards strengthening devolution, alleviating the deprivation facing many Kenyans and developing a thriving economy. Further, in execution of my civil responsibility, I will join together with other Kenyans to hold the re-elected Government to account on the commitments that the ruling party made in it's manifesto and campaign platforms.

Supporters of the former Prime Minister, R.H. Raila Amolo Odinga are, understandingly, dissatisfied with the IEBC and judicial results on the elections, and may remain unconvinced of the viability and potentiality of the second term of Jubilee Party rule. The common stimulus would be to shunt them aside and focus on establishing the new Jubilee Government as a conquest. This will however only make them more resistant and distract the elected Government from it's core business, as it invests time and resources on self preservation and attempts to annihilate the opposition. 

So I hope the re-elected President and his running mate will do the opposite. In the words of the Chinese military strategy sage, Sun Tzu, in the 'Art of War', I encourage the duo to "build your opponent a golden bridge to retreat across." 

The opposition has the support of a significant part of the population - defined in numbers, class, geography and ethnicity - that cannot be wished away without entrenching a feeling of exclusion in certain parts of the country or amongst a certain demographic group. I urge the winning and the losing teams to therefore shift from their hardline positions to a mutually satisfactory engagement for solution to the major problems facing the nation. They need to bridge the gap between their interests and that of their support bases.

I honestly hope that President-Elect Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy President-Elect William Ruto will treat Hon. Raila Odinga as a worthy competitor deserving of their respect and honor. No matter the depth of their disagreements and any unsavory words that may have  been exchanged between them, the President Elect and his Deputy must appreciate that R.H. Raila Odinga remains a scarred and garlanded national hero. They should not just help him save face and give him a safe landing ground, but  should also make the outcome of this election look like a victory for the whole nation, including Raila Odinga and his supporters.

But if the duo are to be expected to do this, R.H. Raila Odinga and his team in the NASA/NRM must also appreciate that, no matter what they think of the credibility of the just ended electioneering process, constitutionally and logically, the process has reached an irreversible finality and is over; and any efforts to stretch it further can only be attempted at great expense to common interest of the nation. R. H. Odinga and NASA/NRM brigade should climb down from their hardline position, renounce bare knuckle street confrontations and economic sabotage, and agree to meet Jubilee Party midstream to discuss matters that plague this country, without unnecessary pre-conditions. Beyond this, NASA must take up its role as the Opposition and engage the new Government within the constitutionally established structures, apart from showcasing its ability as an alternative Government within the County Governments under its leadership. 

To the President Elect and his Deputy Elect, I repeat the words of Sun Tzu "build your opponent a golden bridge to retreat across." 

I pray that the sun will never fall on this great Nation. God bless Kenya. 

The writer is a communication and governance consultant with Abila Consultants

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