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Much awaits us after Christmas festivities



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Once again it is Christmas, that time in the Christian calendar for rejoicing and merriment in celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. It is the moment for felicitations and goodwill. Beyond that, it is an occasion to reflect on what happened during the ending year and think about the coming one.

As a nation, this was a year of mixed fortunes. The beginning of the year was pretty bad. The country had just come out of acrimonious elections and the public mood was highly charged. Opposition protests to challenge the election results nearly got out of hand and, at one time, the country was staring at a conflagration.

Reason prevailed, however, and, on March 9, the protagonists, President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga, entered into a truce through a handshake and that changed the equation. Tempers cooled down and, quickly, the country was able to pick up.

To date, as the year comes to a close, the nation can look back with a sense of pride; that we overcame a crisis and made a resolution to remake and rebuild the country.

Even so, another narrative evolved. The opposition started a campaign for a referendum to change the Constitution. At the heart of the push was the system of governance. With the current Constitution, the architecture of governance changed to a pure presidential system, which, as it has to come to pass, is viciously competitive because of the winner-takes-it-all orientation. Losers are left to lick their wounds, without anything to cling onto.

For this reason, candidates fight tooth and nail to win and deploy any means possible to achieve that.

Towards the end of the year, there were indications that the referendum may come to pass. President Kenyatta, who initially was opposed to it, changed tune and expressed support for a new governance structure that is inclusive — which is only achievable through a major change of the law. Thus, in the new year, a matter that will possible occupy the public’s mind is constitutional review.

However, as we have argued several times, should the country decide to hold a referendum, the issues must be broader and representative of the public’s interest.

That the Constitution should not merely be changed to satisfy the interests of the politicians, create positions and give all of them a seat at the table.

Issues such as fortifying devolution, rationalising elective offices and enhancing governance must be central to that conversation.

As we celebrate Christmas, therefore, let’s express goodwill but remain steadily alert of the critical issues that the country ought to confront in the coming year. Merry Christmas!