Saturday, 1 March 2008

Kenyans must seize democracry for themselves

We applaud Kofi Annan for steering Kenya back to sanity. But we also have to understand that this peace deal is an emergency stopgap solution so that the wounds of rigged elections, mobilized militias, ethnic cleansing, and extra-judicial killings may not bleed the country to death.

The Kenyan people on whose backs this power sharing deal has been signed have to seize democracy for themselves if change is to be real and long lasting, and in service of the Kenyan people and not the competing politicians.
We applaud the deal for peace but also recognize the work for a democracy that serves the people and not the elite is just starting.
We have been offered the shell of democracy, but the struggle is for its content.
We call for a democracy with content of equal land redistribution because land was at the heart of this crisis.
We call for a democracy with the content of economic justice because it is our discontent with extreme poverty that was used against us by the same politicians we are going to reward with cabinet positions.
We call for a democracy with the content of justice. In 1963, our first authoritarian leader, Jomo Kenyatta, asked us to forgive but not forget British colonialism. What he meant was forgive and forget. Let justice be the keeper of our memory.
We call for a democracy that protects its citizens from the excesses of the state. The police killings of unarmed electoral protestors recalls the extra-judicial killings of hundreds of young men criminalized because they are poor in May to June, 2007.
The police force we inherited from British colonialism was trained to see the people as the enemy. We call not only for a retraining of the police, but also for the officers and politicians who gave the shoot-to-kill orders to be brought to justice
We call for a democracy that has the content of justice, if we are to end of cycle of violence and counter violence, revenge and counter-revenge.
We call for a systematic disarming of all militia and the bringing to justice all those responsible for killings, injuries and destabilization.
We call for guarantees of safe passage and return of those violently displaced from their homes. Those who have suffered loss need to be compensated.
We call on an immediate investigation on behalf of the victims of sexual violence and rape and the bringing to justice those responsible.
We call for an independent judicial inquiry into the allegations of election rigging that led to the current crisis.
We have been very good at forgetting - the February 25th anniversary of the Wagalla massacres of 1984 in which over a thousand Kenyan Somalis were killed by the Moi government just passed without as much as a murmur. The recent Eldoret Killings recall the Eldoret killings of 1992 in which over a thousand Kenyans lost their lives. We call for historical and present day crimes against the Kenyan people and humanity to be punished.
We welcome the calm that the agreement brings. But this must not be confused with peace: peace will only be possible through justice and the placing of the truth in the public arena and addressing injustice and inequality.
A process must begin now to consider whether the constitution as it exists, and as it will be amended by parliament shortly, is the constitution that can guarantee peace, or whether we need to establish one that reflects the vision and values of all citizens.
In short, we call for a democracy that serves the people, and not a democracy that dresses up thieves and political thugs in suits.

The real work begins now, resettling the displaced and reconciling all Kenyans.

This is a challenging task for all involved, but there is a lot of healing that needs to be done.

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