February 24th, 2010

Kenya: The politicians just don't seem to get it

Raila Odinga (Left) and Mwai Kibaki

“WE ARE sharpening our pangas [machetes],” says a man in a jam-packed matatu, the ubiquitous minibus taxi that is Kenya’s main means of public transport. “It is not if but when” is the commonest answer to the question, “Will political violence resume?”

Barely two years after a grubby election that left 1,500 Kenyans dead and several hundred thousand homeless, the country is still dangerously adrift. This week the government was embroiled in yet another quarrel after the prime minister, Raila Odinga, sacked a close-rival-turned-enemy, William Ruto, in a move that the president, Mwai Kibaki, deemed unconstitutional.

Kenyans, as well as Western Kenya-watchers, are nervous. A unity agreement signed after the election is a sticking-plaster over a wound that still festers. A fresh election is due in less than three years. Though hope still flickers that the country will pull together to avoid another bout of bloodshed, Kenya’s old rivalries could easily turn nasty again. Few of the country’s politicians seem able to put patriotism before party, tribe or personal interest.

Read more on the report in the Economist http://www.economist.com/world/middle-east/displaystory.cfm?story_id=15549514

Posted by JP Kay (London)