Rule of Law and Peace Building

Published on 27th May 2008

“I was so surprised that those who engaged in post election violence in Kenya spoke English!” a European observed. To many people in the developed world, acts of barbarism emanating from Africa are normally committed by those who have not savored the sweetness of the ‘English civilization!’ But there-live on TV, were youths holding stones, machetes, rungus (clubs) and demanding in fluent English for their democratic rights.   

Are Kenyans happy to see their brothers and sisters in Internally Displaced People (IDP) Camps? No. Will Kenyans be happy in 2022 if those in IDP camps today are massacred by their neighbors? I don’t think so either! Are Kenyans happy to see their brothers and sisters kicked out of South Africa? Not at all! We are in a dilemma, should we only follow rule of law when it favors political elites or should we reflect on cause and effect relation to our perennial crisis?

International Alert (a UK based peace building organization) recognizes the fact that peace does not necessarily come when top rivals sign treaties and or when they get arrested. In short, peace building belongs to the victims. When Nelson Mandela and his political elite came up with peace deals with top apartheid elites; they ‘forgot’ to involve other ‘victims’ in their deal; now we all know the results. Black South Africans are still in the struggle against economic apartheid; and they are unleashing terror on objects human or otherwise that symbolize economic oppression and domination.

I am shocked at how our politicians and cheering intellectuals are forcing the citizenry to forget the events of late December 2007. Why can’t the police isolate the actual rapists and criminals out of the estimated 4,700 youth held in custody for over 4 months? (which in itself is justice denied) Why did President Mwai Kibaki utter these words: "...We've been reminded we must do all in our power to safeguard the peace that is the foundation of our national unity...Kenya has room for all of us." The police obviously follow orders, but the National Intelligence Service team ought to factually project the ramifications of today’s political decisions and advice our leaders.  

Will rule of law stop at post election violence or will it rope in those whose actions triggered mayhem (board room culprits)? The President was clear that Kenya belongs to all of us, no one ought to be evicted from any spot in Kenya and no one ought to be seen to be given preferential treatment either. If our law was as blind as the elites would wish us to believe; 36 million Kenyans should be pushing for compensation from politicians whose actions led to the IDP situation, and the post election national trauma.

To apply the law selectively against the political criminals of post election violence (viewed to be soldiers of democracy); is to plant a seed of worse violence in the coming years. Similar to black South Africans still engaged in the struggle against economic apartheid; thousands of youth who poured onto the streets in the strongholds of some political parties in Kenya will become martyrs and provide the fodder for the next wave of violence that will leave humanity befuddled  by what man can do against man.

We cannot expect a peaceful coexistence between resettled IDPs and their neighbors who are still clamoring for release of their youth. As one IDP aptly pointed out, ‘… it is similar to being thrown into an open mouth of a hungry lion.’ The immediate solution to the IDP problem is to empower them to make individual choices, while government works on long term solution that will ensure each one’s life and property is secured by  the law.

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