Cabinet has no option but to work in unity

Back in January 2003, a new Cabinet of the National Rainbow Coalition (Narc) was sworn in.

Narc was a pre-election alliance bringing together President Kibaki’s National Alliance (Party) of Kenya, and the Liberal Democratic Party, the grouping that had been prodded by Mr Raila Odinga into bolting from the erstwhile ruling party.

To the dismay of many Kenyan who had looked forward to a great new beginning, internal rivalries, mistrust and suspicion saw Narc almost immediately disintegrate.

Fast Forward to the present and an expanded new Cabinet is about to be sworn in following harrowing period of post-election turmoil.

Without going too much into the details, it is necessary to recap that President Kibaki defended his seat on the ticket of yet another outfit, PNU, while Mr Odinga was his main challenger on the ticket of yet another party, ODM.

President Kibaki secured a tainted mandate that was hotly contested by Mr Odinga, and to stem the violence that followed, the two agreed to come together and form what is referred to as the grand coalition, with Mr Odinga as Prime Minister.

The upshot of this all is that when the expanded Cabinet unveiled on Sunday is sworn in, it will represent a re-grouping of the original Narc.

Our hope is that our leaders have learnt from history. Narc collapsed as a party for a variety of reasons, key among them being the continuing scramble for power and the feeling that one of the subscriber parties had been given the short end of the stick when it expected to have an equal share of power.

This new coalition was built on the premise of “real” power-sharing. In the run-up to the announcement of the Cabinet, we had already been treated to the sort of the disagreements that could crop up if that promise was not fulfilled. It is important that we have a genuine partnership, with all working in unity.

If we re-live the experience of the 2003 Cabinet, then the coalition will crumble, and the danger here is that we will not only have to endure a divided government, but face a real risk of violence and instability.

Bookmark the permalink.