During the 'Okoa Kenya' pro-referendum campaign launch last week, Dr
Most Kenyans understand that the
This plan fell through because more than 80 per cent of Kalenjins voted for Jubilee. However,
So a few months ago, when Kenyans were treated to a major fight between the Kalenjin and Kikuyu interests in this government, disguised as 'outrage' in how the Standard Railway Gauge tender was issued, Raila saw an opportunity knocking. If a first-time Kalenjin MP could have the audacity to confront the President to his face on the issue of inclusion of Kalenjins in the Jubilee government, and demand the sacking of 'enemies of the Kalenjin' in his Office, the Kalenjins were ripe for another 'take-over bid'. The Kalenjin reception of Nandi Hills MP Alfred Keter's accusations that Jubilee (read the Kikuyu) had not delivered on the promise of 'half' of the government to the Kalenjin, was manna from heaven.
The former Prime Minister immediately launched a 'Call for National Dialogue' on 'inclusivity'. He then rolled out a series of public rallies across the country to test the waters. The main target was the rally in Eldoret where he gauged the Kalenjin's mood for a fight. He liked what he saw. The next step was to figure out how to reel them in, subtly, and without spooking anyone until it was too late.
Then Raila remembered the 2005 referendum. It had offered him, and other disgruntled forces within
This is what the referendum call is about. It does not matter whether Cord wins or loses this coming referendum (and it will come). What matters is Cord convincing part or all of the Kalenjin vote bloc that they can make a team formidable enough to challenge Uhuru now, and in 2017.
The Kalenjin have nothing to lose. In a worst case scenario they raise their bargaining power within the existing Jubilee government, which means more power, positions and business for their people. In a best case scenario they join a political formation that hounds Uhuru out of power; establishes a post-Jubilee government, keeps at least the Deputy Presidency but with more power; and has more strategic positions in government and a bigger say over who gets lucrative government business tenders. It is a win-win all round.
The President needs to get proactive. If Kenyans insist on supporting a referendum despite the reality that it will genuinely distract from nation-building, then open the 'Pandora's Box' fully.
In addition to Cord's call, let the governors proceed with another independent one. Religious groups can also call for one, maybe on the 'Gays' issues. Youth can ask for one, maybe on specific percentage of representation in government. Jubilee can ask for one, maybe on Presidential age limits. Each group raises one million signatures, which is not hard in a country with over 15 million registered voters. Then the ideas compete in the market place.
Meanwhile Mr. President, do unto CORD what they are trying to do unto you. Debunk the perception that your government's stability depends on two communities by raiding CORD and bringing some of them into your government. Do not wait to 'run when it gets dark' (as the Kikuyu say); like
Ngunjiri Wambugu is the director of
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