I applaud the recent agreement signed by President Kibaki and now new Prime Minister Raila Odinga. This start to cooperation between warring camps bodes well for return to peace within the nation and the prospects for crafting more permanent solutions to long standing problems. But first, the two principals need to decide on a cabinet. Kenya especially needs dynamic ministers who can lead and act and translate noble sounding rhetoric into reality that improves the lot of the wanainchi.
Many wounds need salve. The tribal clashes that rendered the nation are mostly over – for the time being – but underlying issues of access to land, land ownership and freedom of movement and residence must be sorted out. Also, a new government must debate reparations for victims of conflict. Security forces have to cope with roving bands of tribal militia. And if the issues of returning to normal were not tough enough, Kenya must also cope with an economy devastated by the troubles. Many businesses are defunct, the transportation sector crippled, schooling interrupted, agricultural production halved and tourism all but halted. Additionally, thousands of internally displaced people require shelter, food and water.
Resolving these myriad issues will require determination, resources and political compromise, but that is the task before the new government. Outside help is certainly available, but it is incumbent upon the collective leadership of Kenya to take the lead. History (and the Kenyan people) will judge them on the record of their achievements.