|IT IS CONSIDERED GOOD MANners for feuding partners to conceal to the public any displays of open hostility. They can be all lovey-dovey in public, but once safely behind bedroom doors, they can go hammer and tongs at each other.
Such deception can go on for ages. Even their close relatives and best friends might be completely unaware of the animosity lurking within, until the inevitable breaking point when apparent domestic bliss is shattered by an explosion of violence so loud that it leaves everyone stunned.
Perhaps, like in many unions, the public displays of affection between President Kibaki and Mr Raila Odinga since the signing of the historic power-sharing accord only concealed the underlying difficulties.
After the lightning passage in Parliament last week of the Constitution Amendment Bill and the National Accord and Reconciliation Bill, it was presumed that Mr Odinga’s assumption of the new post of prime minister and appointment of his ODM legislators as ministers in a Grand Coalition government would be but a mere formality.
But it is apparent now that the trickier bits of power-sharing are yet to be successfully negotiated.
The clarification on Monday that there is no deadlock and that consultations are going on smoothly over the formation of a new government to be announced soon by President Kibaki was very welcome.
The statement came against the backdrop of consistent reports of a serious stalemate on the specific Government ministries and the number of Cabinet slots ODM will get.
There were also issues about how power-sharing will be implemented outside the political arena, down to key offices in the public service.
A lot of what was coming out in the press, of course, read like it has come straight out a very effective ODM propaganda mill.
ODM’s proposals on how the Cabinet posts should be shared were being reported as if they were part of the accord brokered by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
Indeed, some ODM politicians were behaving as if their party was on the verge of taking over the Government. The matter got to ludicrous levels, with reports that the ODM party headquarters was already acting as a job recruitment centre for loyalists eyeing Government jobs, and they were trooping there with their CVs.
Perhaps it is time for a reality check. The power-sharing deal does not translate to ODM kicking PNU out of government. It is about the two parties and their respective affiliates sharing the responsibility of putting this country back on the road towards peace and prosperity.
One of the factors that led to a successful negotiation of the deal was that President Kibaki and Mr Odinga engaged directly and ignored their respective retinues of sycophants and cheerleaders more interested in securing their own interests.
ONCE THE TWO PRINCIPALS MOVED decisively towards a genuine accommodation, the obstructionists on either side were caught flatfooted, but after the initial sulking, they had no option but to move speedily and join the popular move towards national reconciliation.
But there are still many on both sides who are uncomfortable with the deal.
In President Kibaki’s camp, there are still significant numbers expressing apprehension and openly stating that he had given away too much.
On Mr Odinga’s side, there are some who feel that Mr Odinga did not extract enough – they preferred outright seizure of power rather than any coalition.
On both sides, of course, will be politicians who are bound to lose out in terms of the positions, perks and privileges that will come with the constitution of a new government.
Those jostling for position are the same ones misusing the issue of ethnic and regional balance to push for their own individual ambitions.
From both sides, one hears bankrupt politicians talking abut how their community must be properly recognised in the new set-up. Of course they don’t mean their community; they are pushing for ministerial flags for themselves.
Those selfish individuals would also be the ones who would have no qualms about sabotaging the power-sharing deal just because it does not help them to realise personal ambitions.
This is why President Kibaki and Mr Odinga must continue to ignore obstructionists on their respective sides and continue engaging directly, with the focus on what is good for Kenya rather than what will suit a few individuals.
Those doubts about the power-sharing deal being expressed by politicians must be ignored. There are also those trying to put impediments to ongoing discussions by using their embedded media outlets to put out political party propaganda masquerading as news.
Kenyans, by and large, want the power-sharing settlement to work. They know that the consequence of failure might be too terrible to contemplate.
President Kibaki and Mr Odinga recognised the real dangers of the post-election crisis and moved towards a pact that should ensure Kenya does not degenerate into yet another failed African state.
They must not allow their minions to get in the way. The longer the establishment of the unity government is delayed, the more there will be room for mischief.
The President and the Premier-in-waiting are scheduled to meet on Tuesday. They should finalise everything without further delay.