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The Saba Saba rally at Uhuru Park last on Monday this week was
calibrated to produce maximum “CNN effect” by amassing perhaps the largest ever display of popular support and “people’s power”.

It never pulled the feat.

Actually,advertising that rally as a game changer in Kenyan politics seemed to have kept people away from the rally for two reasons;

First,mass action in Kenya is now always bench-marked against the 2007-2008 post-election -violence,and it was tactless for convenors to pursue their agenda on platform of mass action.

Second,Raila,the main convenor of the CORD’s Saba Saba rally is associated with a long history of political violence in Kenya from the failed 1982 Coup,2007-2008 post-election -violence,and many other occassions where his kind of abrasive politics has condoned violence.

Opposition big wigs did not help the cause of projecting peaceful mass action by constantly drawing their best examples of their planned agenda for change by pointing at Arab spring,South Sudan,Libya,Egypt,ukraine etc where things seem to have moved from bad to worse after the mass action.

In a deep sense, Kenya is haemorrhaging from what the architects of American democracy
identified as the tyranny of excessive democracy.

Unlike the drafters of Kenya’s new liberal constitution, the prompters of the idea of freedom trained their thoughts on the causes of tyranny and oppression, concluding that tyranny not only stems from oppressive governments, but from excessive democracy as well.

Although liberal democracy carries the promise of unhindered enjoyment of liberties, recent events in North Africa and the Middle East reveal its downside as an anarchic trait that exalts mob-rule and chaos as an expression of people’s power.

In hindsight, the pristine spirit of Saba Saba in the 1990s was noble. Pro-democracy activists had a
vision to end oppressive government and entrench freedom, law and order for posterity.

Many of us triumphantly celebrated the adoption of the new liberal constitution in 2010 as the local
equivalent of Francis Fukuyama’s “End of History” (1992) and the global triumph of the liberal order.

As the uncertainty set off by Saba Saba and the killings in Mpeketoni now show, we perhaps wasted our wine on premature celebrations.

Excessive democracy

Dialogue and now,calls for referendum have been cast as the silver-bullet to end Kenya’s myriad problems, particularly insecurity.

But the truth is different.

Kenya is not ailing from a dialogue deficiency syndrome.

In fact, after the election, the greatest challenge is how to even out the keel for the country’s top-heavy architecture of dialogue.

Billions are going into footing the bill for 50 constitutionally-sanctioned avenues of dialogue,including 47 County Assemblies, National
Assembly, Senate and Council of Governors.

The opposition is asking the government to side-step these legal spaces, establish and pay for a
51st forum for a manifestly uncrystallised “national dialogue”.

Dialogue of the deaf

Conceptually, the push for the “talks about talks” is no more than a dialogue of the deaf that reveals
two antagonistic interpretations of the new constitution, especially the sovereign.

On its part, the government has restated the efficacy of “representative democracy” as the
modern expression of the will of the people.

Following its electoral victory, Jubilee declared “the triumph of democracy” hoisted on the idea of a functioning “representative democracy” as a tool of rapid economic progress and social transformation.

As such, President Kenyatta and Deputy President Ruto have ruled out convening the national
dialogue conference, vowing to stay the course in delivering their electoral pledges.

Jubilee stalwarts see no value in the opposition’s type of dialogue which is only suitable for transitions and post-conflict processes.

In a democratic state like Kenya, dialogue takes place in Parliament as the legal forum to resolve the main issues affecting citizens.

“The constitution must be followed … Article 95(2) says that the National Assembly of the Republic of
Kenya will deliberate and resolve all issues of concern of the people of Kenya,” said Majority Leader Aden Duale.

“Cord has and will continue to maintain that the sovereignty of the country lies with the people of Kenya as enshrined in … the constitution,” said a recent statement.

“Such talks must be open to all
stakeholders in the country,” it added.

On his part, Raila Odinga has reiterated that Parliament “is a house of small issues that cannot
handle large national issues like security”.

But Raila’s call for talks has proved a strategic masterstroke, which has enabled him to re- energise the opposition; reassert his authority
within the ODM party in the aftermath of the Karasani party election debacle; to out-shine his
potential challengers for Cord leadership; and to mount a challenge to President Kenyatta’s power
by laying claim to “people’s power” in preparation for the 2017 contest.

However, the logic of “pure democracy” in the 21st century evokes the memories of “the Arab Spring”,a campaign of revolt and civil resistance marked by street demonstrations which have resulted in regime change amid some of the deadliest cases of chaos and anarchy in modern times.

Not surprisingly, the clamour for talks has attracted conspiracy theories that view “dialogue” as a
watchword for ousting the Jubilee leadership from power, a charge Raila has rejected.

The Third Way

In the face of this brinkmanship, a group of MPs has picked and air-brushed the prototype of the Inter-
Party Parliamentary Group (IPPG) that negotiated important constitutional reforms ahead of the 1997 elections, creating an Inter-Party Parliamentary Caucus (IPPC) to spearhead an inclusive dialogue.

But Kenya’s new third way has come unstuck, disowned by the two protagonists. Raila has insisted that the rally will go on and adopt a
resolution on how to tackle corruption, insecurity,threats to devolution, the electoral process,
national inclusivity and international isolation.

In Saba Saba, Kenya faced the wrath of its new unbridled liberal democracy, and the perils of its
fractious power elite in calling for ‘mass action’,which in Kenya today,can only be interpreted to mean violence,anarchy and civil disruption.

“The African Story as told by Africans”.©African News Digest®

“The African Story as told by Africans”.©African News Digest®

“The African Story as told by Africans”.©African News Digest®

“The African Story as told by Africans”.©African News Digest®

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