There is a saying in diplomatic world that countries – like politicians – have no permanent friends or enemies.
All they have are permanent interests. Every move a country makes towards another is more often than not fuelled by the need to advance self-interests.
Should a country’s self-interests coincide with another country’s, they have mutually beneficial relationship. It is on this basis that the West, led by the United States of America and Britain have suddenly changed their stand and warmed up to President-elect Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy-designate William Ruto.
It is not because the West has suddenly grown fond of Uhuru and Ruto. It is because the West, realised, after the Supreme Court upheld the election of the two, that in the self-interests of the West, they have no choice but to fall in line and endorse the election of the two.
Indeed, we say it is a positive development that US President Barack Obama has finally reached out to the President-elect and pledged the US would work closely with the new Kenyan Government.
With the US, United Kingdom and other major Western powers having reached out to President-elect Uhuru and assured him that their countries will work closely with Kenya to enhance mutual interests, it removes a big question that has been hanging over the heads of Kenyans – what next for Kenya and the world relations after the elections?
Now, the question will be: How does the Uhuru-Ruto Government make use of the goodwill from the West and the rest of the world to advance Kenya’s-self-interests too?
President-elect Uhuru and his deputy Ruto should not take for granted this goodwill. Goodwill is a commodity with a very short shelf life. If you don’t use and maximise on it positively and quickly, like the perishable commodity it is, it disappears.
For this reason, we once again call on the two leaders to have top on their agenda for the first 100 days to start with healing the nation and assure the half of the country that did not vote for them that these voters’ interests are nevertheless at the heart of Jubilee Government.
We have said this before and we will say it again, the onus of reaching out lies much more on the winner than the vanquished.
So to Uhuru and Ruto, we say; exercise power with restraint and understanding. Don’t let the hubris of winning blind you.
For if you do so, you will miss a golden opportunity to take advantage of the goodwill which nations of the world have extended to your leadership.
The world – and the country – will be watching to see how you treat those who did not vote for you. The world and the country will be watching to see how you craft your Cabinet and how inclusive it is.
The hallmark of a good and visionary leader is one who embraces his erstwhile political enemies and converts them to his friends and supporters in the larger interests of the country.
Reaching out to those who did not vote for you is not a mark of weakness; it is a mark of strength of character and makes a lot political sense too.
How you handle the issue of inclusiveness and move forward with everyone will be the first tests for your regime and how you score on the inclusiveness of the Cabinet will have a strong bearing on whether you retain international and local goodwill or you will have squandered it.
Let us all respect institutions
Whenever a litigant goes to court for resolution of a dispute, there are only two possible outcomes: You win or lose the case.
Of course everyone goes to court believing they have a strong case and trust they will have their day in court.
No one goes to court believing they will lose although in the natural scheme of things, the possibility of losing is always in the air.
Now, Prime Minister Raila Odinga went to the Supreme Court seeking to have the highest court in the land reverse the decision of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to declare Uhuru Kenyatta the winner of the presidential race. We commend Raila for having taken the court route to resolve the election dispute.
When the Supreme Court ruled in favour of Uhuru, PM Raila promptly announced although he was disappointed at losing the petition, he respected the ruling of the court and would abide by it. But a few days ago something odd seems to have stirred in Raila. During his recent trip to Kisumu, the PM appeared to revisit the Supreme Court ruling and had some rather untoward things to say about the Supreme Court.
Equating himself to Jesus before the Roman Council headed by Pontius Pilate, the PM told his excited supporters that the Supreme Court ruling was meant to crucify him politically.
These are unfortunate remarks from a leader who has been in the forefront of reforming and strengthening the Judiciary.
Such remarks have the potential of undermining the very same Judiciary Raila was so instrumental in building.
We may not agree with Court ruling all the time, but we – especially our leaders – owe it to the country to respect such rulings and desist from utterances and activities that will make crucial institutions and pillars of democracy lose public trust.