Leaders must put out the fires at once

Incidents of violence have already been reported since the effort to establish the Grand Coalition government ground to a halt. There are legitimate fears that if the impasse is not speedily resolved, Kenya will slide back to the kind of violence unleashed in the wake of the disputed presidential elections.

There can be no doubt that the power-sharing agreement signed on February 28 between President Kibaki and Mr Raila Odinga pulled Kenya back from the brink.

The agreement saved Kenya from chaos and disintegration. If the Act is not made operational through the formation of a government composed of both sides, violence could resume with renewed fury.

It might be tempting to dismiss the violence witnessed so far since the apparent collapse of the power-sharing deal as a few isolated incidents. But that would be a myopic view, for it does not take into account why reconciliation was necessary in the first place.

The deal was much more than just a power-sharing agreement. It was essentially a peace treaty, and such a treaty is only necessary in a situation of war or civil strife.

It would follow then that if a peace pact breaks down, there would be a reversal to the conditions that led to the negotiation of the pact in the first place.

It is important at this stage for Kenyans to remain calm and not indulge in any acts that might compromise a fragile peace.

Kenyans must give their leaders space to resolve their differences, but the leaders must realise that they do not have time on their side.

Tensions are already running high. President Kibaki and Mr Odinga are squarely responsible for leading Kenya out of a possible quagmire. They cannot afford to wait until there is another explosion before moving frantically to put out the fires.

The two leaders must meet immediately, without preconditions and without threats, and live up to the expectations of their people by forming the unity government in line with the accord they signed.

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