07/29/2008versione stampabileprintinvia paginasend

Five months after the 'end' of the crisis no reform can be seen
“Premier Odinga has disappointed the poor. He has obtained what he wanted for himself and his family, but he has betrayed his long-standing supporters”. These are the words of S.K., a young Kenyan man who was forced to flee Nairoby during the unrest last January. He was reached by Peacereporter via email. His words reflect the mood of a lot of Kenyans five months after the post-electoral violence, that caused the death of at least 1,500 people and caused another 350,000 to escape. The government of national unity, that was mandated to implement the much-needed agrarian reform and manage the coming back of the refugees, has achieved little so far.

Il premier keniano Raila OdingaAdmittedly the challenge the government faced was not an easy one. The government was born with the aim of bringing to the same table the men of president Mwai Kibaki and of the opposition leader Raila Odinga. However the Kenyan 'super-government' spends more time dealing with internal quarrels than trying to drive away the threats the country faces in the future. As such, the public struggles to understand why it has to sustain the most expensive executive government in the history of the country (it was enlarged to 41 ministers to include every community in the country) without getting any concrete results. So far the coalition has held together, but only just. The first important test will be the presentation of the draft agrarian reform at the end of the month. “It appears that the proposals of the agricultural minister are too radical for the president's supporters”, Dennis Onyango, commentator at broadsheet Eastandard, tells PeaceReporter. “The minister wants to revoke all the land concessions that date back to the colonial period, but Kibaki opposes this as he is one of the largest landowners in the country.”

But the attention is not only on the redistribution of land. The legacy of January's clashes, that saw gangs from the Kikuyu community (of which Kibaki is a member) and the Luo community (closer to Odinga) fight each other all over the country, is heavy. Many victims of the disorders, who have been forced to leave their houses, are too afraid to come back; others who have come back have been forced to flee again after receving threats. This is a sign that the state of relative harmony may have been jeopardised forever. And politicians, among the best-paid in the world (the salary of an MP is as high as an American senator's pay), don't have enough money to improve social welfare, which makes the humanitarian situation even worse. “At the moment abourt a hundred refugee camps, for refugees who are on their way back to their house, are active, but most miss the basic services”, Mercy Manyala of the United Nations Development Programme tells PeaceReporter. “The problem is that the government opened the camps without consulting with other agencies, which have been caught unprepared. And this has made funding partis more reluctant to help.”
Il presidente keniano Mwai KibakiThe responsibility for the stalemate is attributable to Raila Odinga, who was the people's champion after the presidential election last December. The results of the election were manipulated by Kibaki's entourage to secure the president a second mandate. Some argue that, as Kibaki's work is now hindered by the government's internal problems, he is focusing on winning back the electorate before the 2012 election. On one hand, this could mean Kibaki will abandon an ethno-centric policy that has been commonplace in Kenya in the past. But it could also mean the hopes for change of Kibaki's supporters are forever betrayed. “Luo young people in Nairobi are very disappointed about Kibaki's work”, continues S.K. “If he does not deal with the agrarian reform soon, the 2012 election will turn into a war between the poor and the rich.”
Matteo Fagotto
Topic: Peace, Politics
Area: Kenya