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The Kenya presidential elections of December 2007 are potentially the most damaging episode to national unity since the assassination of Tom Mboya in July 1969. Both the murder of Tom Mboya and the management of the recent presidential elections are widely interpreted as an attempt to ethnically monopolise the presidency of the country. Both Mboya’s assassination and the latest elections are seen as historic blows to national stability and major setbacks to the process of democratization. Both Mboya’s murder and the 2007 elections unleashed widespread rioting and looting and made national institutions significantly more fragile than they were before.

It is therefore imperative that Mwai Kibaki and Raila Odinga enter into urgent negotiations to find a solution to this painful impasse, and to help the process of national healing.

The ideal solution would be to agree to a recounting of votes in the most controversial of the provincial results for the presidency, and for both Kibaki and Odinga to commit themselves to respect the outcome of the recounting.

Another possible solution would be for the African Union to appoint an independent commission of enquiry into the management of the presidential election, and make recommendations. One possible recommendation would conceivably be to accept the parliamentary results, which had, by most estimates, been transparent and credible. But there might be new internationally supervised presidential elections with the three main candidates on the new ballot.

The third option is probably the easiest to accomplish. The new parliament should be sworn in, and called into session. Its first task should be to consider a constitutional amendment creating the post of Prime Minister answerable to Parliament and not to the Chief Executive (the President). If the constitutional amendment is passed, parliament would then vote for the first Prime Minister. Considering the balance of political parties voted into the new parliament, the new Prime Minister is almost bound to be the Honorable Raila Odinga.

Kenya would thereby become something approximating the fifth republic of France with both an executive President accountable to the people, directly, and an executive Prime Minister accountable to the people’s legislative representatives, Parliament. As in the case of the French Republic, the President (Mwai Kibaki) and the Prime Minister (Raila Odinga) would have to find ways of working together in the interest of the people of Kenya.

Who would appoint the members of the cabinet- the President or the Prime Minister? The Foreign Minister and the Minister of Defense could be the prereagative of the Head of State (Kibaki) to appoint. But the Minister of Internal Security and almost all other ministries would be appointed by the Prime Minister (Raila Odinga).

The precise division of labor and division of powers between the new Prime Minister would have to be negotiated prior to the constitutional amendment by new Parliament.

Later in the session of the new parliament there may be need to re-examine the whole constitution of Kenya in the light of problems which Kenya has had to face since the last constitutional referendum. Should we re-examine once again the Maboma Draft constructed by the Ghai Commission? Only the new parliament, in consultation with the new President, can decide whether to have a new constitutional referendum.

* Ali Mazrui is Director, Institute of Global Cultural Studies, Albert Schweitzer Professor in the Humanities, Binghamton University, State University of New York at Binghamton, New York, USA and Chancellor, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, Thika and Nairobi Kenya

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