AFRICA : Kenyan women turn the heat on politicians by Bornice Biomndo (The Daily Nation newspaper)
Kenyan women recently put their nation’s political leadership on notice and stopped short of passing a vote of no confidence in President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga. Meeting under the auspices of the newly-formed women’s alliance 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 coalition Gender 10, which met at a Nairobi hotel, includes Maendeleo ya Wanawake, the 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 Prime Minister Odinga must respect the people and nation of Kenya by "ending forthwith the little power games" that undermine the country’s dignity, safety and democratic spaces;* The president and prime minister must give respect, full intent, interpretation and observation to the spirit and letter of the National Accord and Reconciliation;* A responsive, sensitive and people-driven leadership and coalition government must be created that is decisive, clear about the country’s priorities, willing to sacrifice individual ambition for the greater good of the nation, with leadership that inspires confidence amongst the country’s people;* The reform agenda must be fast-tracked; and* Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka must resign; he must refuse 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. They said, "[Kenya’s] women … 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 resolutions: * 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.Other groups whose representatives signed the statement were the Caucus for Women Political Leadership, the 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.