We have a new pope and a new president of China
Posted Friday, March 15 2013 at 02:00
There is a winner, Uhuru Kenyatta, but with an expected court challenge, we cannot be sure when the new president will be sworn-in.
“Annuncio vobis gaudium magnum: Habemus Papam” (I announce to you a great joy: We have a Pope) is the announcement given in Latin when a Pope is elected by the electoral college of cardinals. It has taken less than two weeks to replace Pope Benedict XVI who in a surprise move declared his resignation effective from end of February.
The new Pope, Francis, carries a lot of responsibility to clean the Church image of widespread sexual depravity involving ordained leaders of the Church who are otherwise sworn to a life of celibacy.
For us Catholics, the unending revelations of these scandals and hypocrisy have become a constant embarrassment and the sooner a solution is found the better for the whole Church and for individual Catholics.
The first Jesuit and the first Latin American Pope has also got the challenges to reverse the declining fortunes of Christianity in the West and to reduce the losses of the Catholic Church to other Christian denominations in Latin America and elsewhere.
This is a huge task but that is not all. He has also to modernise the administration of the Church in Rome and worldwide, he has to address the issue of the frequently violated anachronistic celibacy rule imposed on priests and religious orders (nuns, etc). Considering the short time the Pope has to accomplish all this and more, he needs the prayers and good wishes of all people of good will.
The leadership transition in 2013 is not limited to only the Catholic Church. There is a transition in China to new leaders of the Communist Party of China and the State. The world paid a lot of attention to the electoral contest between Obama and Romney and continues to be captivated by the budgetary games between President Obama and the Republican leadership in Congress and yet increasingly, the events in countries like China and India have a lot of influence on the lives of most people in the whole world.
Nearer home, the election in Kenya is yet to be conclusively settled. There is a winner, Uhuru Kenyatta, but with an expected court challenge, we cannot be sure when the new president will be sworn-in.
If, for example, the Supreme Court agrees with Raila Odinga’s challenge of the election results and orders fresh elections in sixty (60) days, any eligible Kenyan would be free to stand. Whereas a run-off had been expected, an annulment of results by court would lead to another presidential election, not a run-off.
Would the situation be more favourable to Raila? Most unlikely, because now Uhuru would have many incumbent MPs, senators, governors, etc., in the field to campaign for him, including such parties as Kanu, New Ford Kenya, among others, as well as some failed presidential candidates. In other words, the incumbency advantage is more on Uhuru side than Raila. Clearly, Raila will be more of an underdog than before (which could be turned into an advantage).
Secondly, the ten counties which gave Uhuru his almost one million votes above Raila will remain solidly behind Uhuru. Thirdly, the ICC case against Uhuru has been undermined by the ICC withdrawal of charges against Francis Muthaura, Uhuru’s co-accused. It is, therefore, now easier to forecast an Uhuru victory than before the March 4th election. Raila will be in need of more divine intervention.
Here in Uganda, Parliament is pre-occupied with the Marriage and Divorce Bill and MPs have taken some surprising positions on such issues as cohabitation and pre-nuptial agreements on the sharing of property in case of divorce. I say surprising because a number of the vocal MPs against legalisation of cohabitation are actually in cohabitation relationships.
The problem here is lack of objectivity, where individual situations influence the content of national legislation. If we are moving towards East African integration, why do we not take lessons from our neighbours on such matters? Cohabitation for two years, not 10, is the period in Tanzania marriage law, pre-nuptial agreements are the norm in Rwanda. Just find out how these provisions have worked in practice and improve upon them. But many MPs speak as if they are inventing something non-existent anywhere else in the world.
Mr Ruzindana is a former IGG and former MP.