Let talk on refugees be in good faith

The issue of the internally displaced people is becoming more vexed with each passing day, and the auguries for a quick cure for what is, essentially, Kenya’s festering sore, do not look very promising.

While top political leaders express horror that more than 350,000 Kenyans are living in sub-human conditions in those camps and they must be resettled as expeditiously as possible, there seems to be some resistance from politicians in Rift Valley Province, from where the majority of the victims were evicted.

It is strange that a political leader worth his or her salt should appear to condone the mayhem that ensued after the disputed December presidential elections, during which mass murder, mutilations, pillage and rape became common.

A number of Rift Valley MPs believe that it would be premature to resettle the refugees before a Truth and Reconciliation Commission is set up, and what they call historical injustices addressed. They also want investigations to be carried out to determine why ethnic cleansing occurs every election year.

That seems to be only fair. But the question is: how soon can that be done? Are these innocent Kenyans to live in camps indefinitely until politicians decide that time is ripe for resettlement?

These are some of the issues that are supposed to be thrashed out between Rift Valley MPs, President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga, at a meeting scheduled for today.

But when people come up with preconditions before such talks even begin, it is a sign that they may not be willing to budge from their positions.

What should ideally happen is a meeting of minds between the MPs, the President and the Premier during which honest views can be exchanged and the refugees allowed back to their land as early as possible. Let the meeting be held in good faith, so that the healing process can start in earnest.

When politicians demand that people suspected of murder, arson and pillage be set free as a precondition, it cannot really be a sign of good faith. Why should innocent people be afraid to face the law?

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