Monday, January 14, 2008


With the country still in search of the elusive truth. The eye turns on to the newly elected members of the tenth parliament and the speaker they are about to elect......

New Speaker must unite Parliament

Published on January 15, 2008, 12:00 am

Today, MPs meet to elect the Speaker who will shepherd the Tenth Parliament. This comes in the wake of the disputed presidential elections that have driven a wedge in the national fabric.

Electing the Speaker of the National Assembly is a game of numbers and whoever musters most of MPs will carry the day. But the election must not be seen to be a contest between PNU and ODM. Whoever wins Parliament’s top job must not trade the victory with party loyalty.

And this explains why whoever is picked relinquishes party office to ensure that he or she has no vested or party interests. He or she must do what is right to ensure debate and resolution of issues in Parliament.

With the spectre of violence and lawlessness still vivid, the House needs a Speaker who, through wisdom, courage and competence, will turn back the tide and encourage dialogue, justice and reconciliation.

Whoever clinches the post must be a Speaker who will unite rather than split the House. If this happens, the example would trickle down and help heal the nation’s wounds. The Speaker must be one who will tell the country that it must not be prisoner of the bleak present, but a beacon of hope.

Most importantly, the Speaker must guide new MPs through the legislative process so that they begin as quickly as possible to make laws that will improve the nation’s welfare.

For the sake of the country, the winners should be magnanimous and the losers gracious. Depending on how what happens today, the new Speaker could lead the House and, indeed the country, on the path to peace and reconciliation or down the precipice.

Kenya is still bleeding from the events that succeeded the disputed presidential election results. In many parts of the country, ‘normalcy’ is said to have returned. But the peace could turn out to be a mere mirage if Parliament does not handle sensitive issues responsibly.

It would be worse if the forum that is Parliament were used to inflame passions, incite and egg on those bent on chaos that has wreaked havoc in most parts of the country.

Today’s events come after a closely fought, but disputed presidential election. The wounds of the losers are still fresh, especially because they believe that they were robbed of the ultimate prize. It is understandable that they have a grudge and may want to settle scores on the floor of the House.

But this would only serve short-term gains. We call for integrity and sobriety in Parliament. These are the only attributes that would end the political crisis facing the nation. And Kenyans expect a lot from Parliament.

But even as they do so, they have not forgotten the lacklustre performance of MPs in the last Parliament. The legislators were able, but did not do their best. They gave too much of their time to personal emoluments to the chagrin of the country.

However, the public was watching and this explains the many MPs who lost their seats in the last election. The new legislators must, therefore, give their all to the onerous task that they have been given. If they do not, the day of reckoning will surely come.

Foremost will be the way they conduct themselves at this period when the country is bleeding and hurting. Accolades should go to those who aspire to heal the nation; barbs must go the way of those whose mission will be to light more fires.

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