Sharing power is only the first step

President Kibaki Tuesday laid down his proposals to pull the country out of the political crisis. Top on the agenda is a comprehensive constitutional review within a year to provide a framework for the envisaged changes in the political, judicial and electoral processes.

He acknowledged that what we have is a political crisis that requires a political settlement, and therefore agreed that power-sharing is the way to go.

However, the President insisted that the agreement must be undertaken within the existing constitutional regime.

By and large, the tone of his message was encouraging. It underlined the realisation that the country’s future lies in inclusiveness and not exclusiveness that characterised past administrations.

Still, the statement left many questions unanswered. For one, the insistence on effecting a power-sharing deal within the current Constitution raises key questions.

Does that simply mean giving ODM leaders ministerial positions? How would that translate into power-sharing? Do we need mediators to convince the President to hand over Cabinet jobs or that is something he can do, and has done, without recourse to a third party?

When chief mediator Kofi Annan addressed an informal session of Parliament last week, he said the proposed political settlement would necessitate far-reaching constitutional amendments.

Thus, he was telling them to be ready to push through such constitutional changes as quickly as circumstances would dictate.

Secondly, President Kibaki proposed a 12-month period for enacting a comprehensive constitution. This sounds like reasonable time because we believe that most of the reforms can be dispensed with within six months. The onus is on the negotiating team to identify these areas and ensure MPs legislated on them.

For now, power-sharing with clearly defined responsibilities is the way to go as the country prepares for holistic reforms to usher in a new socio-economic, political, judicial and electoral order.

Nation Editorial

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