KENYA: Women now turn the heat on politicians

kibaki__raila.jpgPresident Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga. Kenyan women on Wednesday put the political leadership on notice and stopped short of passing a vote of no confidence in Presiden

Meeting under the auspices of the newly-formed Gender 10, they
said:The women of this country are frustrated and most perturbed by
the feuds, turns and twists of the coalition Government and
particularly the lack of political leadership by the two principals,
the President and Prime Minister, who have continuously shown the
Kenyan people the contempt card.

They said the two should sign performance contracts and added that the
failure to do so will be a confirmation of a lack of commitment, bad
faith and contempt to the people of Kenya.

Ethnic violence

The groups that were meeting at a Nairobi hotel, included Maendeleo ya
Wanawake, National Council of Women of Kenya, Coalition on Violence
Against Women and the Federation of Women Lawyers – Kenya (Fida). They
accused the politicians of leading the country towards another spate of
ethnic violence by their selfishness. They demanded the following from
the Grand Coalition Government:

-President Kibaki and Mr Odinga respect the people and nation of Kenya
by ending forthwith the little power games that undermine the
dignity, safety and democratic spaces of our country;

-The President and PM give respect, full intent, interpretation and
observation to the spirit and letter of the National Accord and

-A responsive, sensitive and people-driven leadership and coalition
government that is decisive, clear about the country's priorities,
willing to sacrifice individual ambition for the greater good of the
nation, a leadership that inspires confidence amongst the country's

-Fast-tracking of the reforms agenda, and,

-Resignation of Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka and refusal by him to be used to defeat the National Accord.

The groups said women and children suffered the worst consequences of
the post-election violence through rape and killings. Other groups
whose representatives signed the statement were the Caucus for Women
Political Leadership, Centre for Rights Education and Awareness,
Tomorrow's Child Initiative, Women in Law and Development, African
Women and Child and Development through Media and Young Women
Leadership Institute.

They said: The women of this country will not tolerate and or allow
its political leadership to lead it back onto a slippery journey to the
country's deathbed, violence and absolute chaos. They threatened a sex
boycott by women from Wednesday to demand that the two principals take
control and lead the country to its desired destiny.

This country cannot continue to hang on the brink of paralysis,
uncertainty, indecisiveness, bad leadership and decisions meant to
preserve an insecure presidency as opposed to securing the safety and
security of a whole nation, they said. They listed the following as
some of the ills afflicting the country and which need speedy

-Brutal attacks and hacking of over 30 Kenyans in Karatina.

-Stalled reforms under Agenda Four, which include land, legal and constitutional reforms;

-Lack of an accountable system for punishing perpetrators of post-poll chaos;

-Vast hunger, poverty, insecurity and desperation by Kenyans; and

-Attacks against the country's sovereignty by the Migingo island saga
and alleged poor handling of the dispute by the government.

Under the banner of Gender 10 (G10), the lobbyists said the two feuding
coalition government partners were using the vice-president's position
to propagate bickering and unnecessary power games between the
President and the Prime Minister. On the recent fight over the leader
of Government Business in Parliament, the women said that President
Kibaki and Mr Odinga would have solved the issue without dragging Mr
Kalonzo into it.

He is used to undermine discussions that should take place and delay
proper implementation of the National Accord, Ms Ann Njogu of the
Centre for Rights and Education Awareness (Creaw) told journalists. Ms
Njogu was accompanied by Federation of Women Lawyers (Fida) director Ms
Patricia Nyaundi and Maendeleo ya Wanawake chairperson Rukia Subow,
among other women's lobby groups leaders.

Turning to Speaker Kenneth Marende's decision to act as an interim
chairman of the House Business Committee, the women said that he failed
to take decisive action and instead shied away. On Tuesday, Mr Marende
ruled that he would temporarily fill the position of Chair of the House
Business Committee, which Mr Odinga and Mr Musyoka had both claimed.

While Mr Odinga argued that as coordinator and supervisor of government
functions he should lead, Mr Musyoka had the backing of the President
and had been leader since the First Session of the 10th Parliament. He
(the Speaker) made a safe decision at a time when the country needs
tough decisive action to move forward on its reform agenda, said Ms
Carole Ageng'o, director of Tomorrow's Child Initiative, said.

However, they acknowledged that the Speaker's move would enable House
business to continue. The women further said they were tired of the
power games in Government and asked the members of the coalition to put
their personal interests aside and be sensitive to the citizens' needs.

Daily Nation

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