|The mediation talks between Government and ODM will only bring short-term changes in the country, controversial clergyman Timothy Njoya said Tuesday.
|Retired Presybyterian Church of East Africa clergyman, the Rev Timothy Njoya (left) and other pastors throw ashes at the ruins of the Kenya Assemblies of God Church, Kiambaa in Eldoret, on Tuesday. Thirty-five people were burnt to death in the church in post-election violence. Photo/JARED NYATAYA
While acknowledging the talks led by former UN secretary general Kofi Annan, the Rev Njoya said the negotiations will not solve the deep-seated problems that fuelled the post-election crisis.
The retired moderator of the Presbyterian Church of East Africa faulted the talks, saying they were not centred on the perpetrators and victims of the violence.
“It is good that our national leaders are talking to one another. But it is the common people who perpetrated the violence and those who bore its brunt should be talking to one another first.
“That is the first step toward finding a lasting solution to the problems that plague this country,” the Rev Njoya said.
The clergyman spoke at Kiambaa Village, Eldoret, where he had led an interdenominational group on a fact-finding mission on the violence in Uasin Gishu District.
Speaking at the ruins of the Kenya Assembly of God Church, where 35 people died, Rev Njoya said the violence should be an eye opener to the hatred and anger various communities in Kenya have been bottling up for a long time.
“It is good that this happened to us. It has given us the chance to vent the anger we have been carrying for so long,” said Rev Njoya.
He added: “Let the painful sacrifice of the people who have died in this conflict not be for nothing. Let us now go forth and rebuild our country.”
Dr Wellington Mutiso, the general-secretary of the Evangelical Alliance of Kenya, said the violence was fuelled by land and economic disparities that have characterised the Kenyan society since independence.
“Measures should be taken so that everyone feels that they own a piece of this nation,” said Dr Mutiso.
Rev Njoya criticised the Church, saying that it “stands accused of the sins of omission and commission.”
“It spoke many voices when it should have been united to speak the voice of reason and love to Kenyans,” he said.
He urged the Church to redeem itself by taking the lead in preaching reconciliation and love to all Kenyans.
Elsewhere in Eldoret, a majority of residents are supporting proposals that the Annan-led mediation team come up with a grand coalition to help restore peace.
A cross-section of those interviewed said, however, that the coalition government should serve on an interim basis pending a presidential election re-run.
Mr Patrick Njuguna, a clothes dealer in Eldoret Town considers a coalition government arrangement as the only solution.
“We are emerging from weeks of darkness. I support the idea if it will prevent further slide into anarchy,” he said.
Mr Njuguna said the search for peace must take precedence over personal political interests.
For Oliver Shiundu, a coalition government should serve as a temporary measure. A presidential re-run is the long lasting solution to the impasse, he says.
“I know (President) Kibaki lost the elections to (ODM’s) Raila Odinga. I will only support the coalition suggestion as a way of ending the standoff, but a repeat of elections must be provided for,” declares Mr Shiundu, who repairs watches in Eldoret Town.
Mr Shiundu believes that executive authority must be shared between the President and a prime minister.
Mr Shiundu is against a non-executive prime minister, saying the debacle of the 2002 Narc coalition arrangement convinces him that any such agreement will haunt Kenyans sooner than later.
Mr Humprey Otieno, a businessman in Eldoret Town, has Mr Annan to thank for making it possible for him to reopen his business. Owing to this, he fully backs a coalition arrangement in which power would be shared between a president and a prime minister.
“Those opposing this suggestion are living in a different Kenya. If they indeed reside here, they should not be wasting time rejecting an idea whose time has come,” Mr Otieno observes.
The two protagonists
Similarly, Mr Gregory Cherop voices his strong support for a mediated solution to the current crisis.
“The two protagonists do not have a say in deciding who to lead us. If Mr Odinga surrenders to President Kibaki, then we will have reason to feel short-changed,” says Mr Cherop, an unemployed youth.
Mr Cherop, 26, suggests that the transitional administration’s mandate must not exceed two years, after which fresh elections must be conducted.
“Those who are fronting a prime minister without power are in effect suggesting that those who voted for that candidate had less ballot power.
“Every Kenyan has one equal vote and this must be reflected in any power deal for a coalition or transitional government,” Mr Cherop says.
He sees Mr Annan’s initiative as Kenya’s last chance to return to justice, peace and democracy. He fears that if mediation does not succeed, then Kenyans must be prepared for really tough times ahead.