teargas is back; new elections?

I’ve been doing my best to ignore Kenyan politics, but I’m beginning to wonder if I should be paying more attention. Cabinet talks are deadlocked, there have been a few protests. Yesterday there was a lot of talk about holding a new election. You can read all about it here (Daily Nation, Standard, NY Times, BBC)

To be honest, if I hadn’t taken my usual glance at the papers, I wouldn’t be thinking about this. (Another sign was that people were dredging up old posts here about Kenya.) It seems like most Kenyans are going about their business and largely ignoring the political soap opera. (It reminds me a lot of my kids at home fighting over who has which toy.) See the quotes from What an African Woman Thinks that I’ve posted below.

What’s going to happen next? I have no clue. Right after the elections, I suspected that things would get very bad, and they did. Thankfully, they did not get as bad as they could have. Now, I have no idea what could happen. I think a new election would take us right back to where we are now. The support of the Vice President (who garnered almost 10% of that last vote) would probably give the presidency back to the incumbent, and the ODM opposition would likely maintain a majority in parliament. Since the constitution has just been amended to create a prime minister’s post, we’d have Raila back as prime minister. Then we’d have the same debate about how much power he should have. (Some have said, however, that the president would be ineligible to run for a third term, so it’s unlikely he would call for a new election – unless all this has made him look more positively on retirement.)

I find the find the Nairobi news articles themselves, disappointing. After a steady diet of the Chicago Tribune, Washington Post, and NY Times, it’s like going back to your small-town paper. The headlines are great, but the articles themselves don’t add a whole lot of new information or are hard to follow.

The columnist and editors, on the other hand, have generally impressed me. So, if you are living outside Kenya, but want to feel the pulse on what is happening here, check out the Daily Nation opinions, and Standard commentary or columnists. [I’ll need to check if these links work tomorrow. Otherwise just select the click on the appropriate tabs on the left side.] It’s still hit and miss, but usually one of them hits the nail on the head. See for example: Leaders must put out the fires at once (Nation editorial) and why we must all join the murky world of politicians. The cartoonists are also quite insightful, but if you don’t know who the political personalities are, they can be hard to follow see example below.

Hopefully What an African Woman Thinks will keep posting. She expressed some of my best sentiments in her post yesterday – Abnormal Service Resumes

In other non-news, plus ça change, plus c’est la meme chose.

I hear there’s bickering about Cabinet Posts. I couldn’t say for sure because I’ve officially banned me from watching the news or reading anything even remotely related to Kenyan political news. For the sake of my mind. I’ve only one you see, and I’m intent on not loosing it.

It’s interesting to see though, that despite the fact that the political class has not got much of its act together and there’s hardly much governing going on except by the perennial civil servant class, things seem to be chugging along just fine.

It would seem to me therefore, that the role of politicians in Kenya ought to be confined to “staying out of trouble and letting Kenyans get on with our business.” Full stop.

Today’s cartoon in the Daily Nation – Gado.

For the uninitiated: Raila has the hat and flowered shirt. Kibaki is holding the goat in the first picture. (Obviously, Annan is the intervening elder.) They guy with the ax is the secretary of the cabinet – Muthaura.

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