Thursday, July 08, 2004



The idea of a 21-day transition from Election Day to inauguration day is a welcome one indeed. A transition period would allow the president-elect, his team and the country ample time to celebrate their victory, recover from the rigors of the campaign and begin preparations for the hard work that lies ahead. The president-elect could use this time to create his government, from creating a cabinet, to filling staff positions. This period would also allow him to develop a working relationship within his government, iron out any problems that may exist and begin the process of turning campaign promises into workable government policy. It would also be the perfect time for him to get to develop a rapport with the other arms of government, the bureaucracy, diplomatic corps and the press. All these steps would ensure that once the government is inaugurated the focus is immediately on policy and not who will get what position in government.
The president-elect could also use the transition period to acquaint himself with the citizens as their new president. He could also use the time to articulate his policy objectives and his vision for Kenya over the coming years. The elections can have a polarizing effect on society and the president-elect striking a conciliatory tone and a get back to work attitude would spar the country to leave electioneering behind and focus on the vision the president has for the country. The period would also allow for a well-orchestrated handover ceremony to be arranged (and not the chaotic scenes of the last inauguration). Moreover, it would allow the out going president enough time to tie any loose ends and move vacate power in an orderly and dignified manner.
It would be worth noting that the U.S has a 70-day plus transition and the most effective presidents have used this time to ensure that they hit the ground running. Ronald Reagan is a good example; his orderly and precise transition is often cited as the model for other presidents to follow. He began by dividing up his team into those involved with turning promises to policy and others involved with the physical transition into the white house. He spent most of his time getting to know Washington and the power brokers in the city, especially legislators. His transition is often credited for his successes in the first two years of his presidency. Clinton on the other hand, is a poster child for how not to do things. He had no formal transition plan and left everything to fall in place. He ended up spending most of his first year dealing with controversies that could have been avoided and little time dedicated to actual policy.
A political transition would allow Kenyan’s to come to terms with a new political reality and I believe the idea should be embraced and entrenched into our new constitution.


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