A new dawn for Kenyan politics

A commission in Kenya has made suggestions for “healing the nation” and avoiding post-election conflict.

The 2017 poll was hotly disputed and President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga almost pushed the country into turmoil.

But a few months later the nation watched as the two men shook hands in the corridor of the president’s office and later selected a group of people of differing political affiliations and beliefs to make proposals for bridging political tensions by avoiding the scenario in which the election winner gets everything and the loser nothing

On 26 November – a year-and-a-half after the historic handshake – the Building Bridges Initiative report was released.

It suggests that the main loser in the elections should be nominated to parliament as the official opposition leader with a shadow cabinet and that regional and ethnic balance should be promoted in government, as provided for in the previous constitution. It also recommends reintroducing the post of prime minister and new procedures for the selection of  cabinet ministers,

This week a meeting was held to inform delegates from the country’s 47 counties of the contents of the report. The recommendations will now either be voted on in parliament or put to the people for a referendum.

The proposals are being widely discussed by members of the public, and have generally been warmly welcomed. But Kamire wa Wairimu, a 39-year-old businessman and wheat producer in Narok, one of the areas most affected political tension after the last election, speaks for a number of critics when he told me that while it is positive to try and mend political processes, he is worried about the possible public expense of the recommendations.

”More political posts are introduced, in a situation where regular people are fighting to make enough money to buy food, while the costs of politicians and their administrations are high,” he cautioned.

/Kimani Chege, Kenya

The postcards made by journalists in our network are published on the Blankspot Project website.