Opposition debate pricks unity govt

September 7, 2008 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, September 7 – Debate over the formation of a grand opposition in Parliament resurfaced on Sunday after Justice Minister Martha Karua stated that she was for the idea, just as Prime Minister Raila Odinga spoke of the contrary.

The Minister, who spoke in Kisii, threw her weight behind the motion that she had opposed in its conception.

“Were it not for the opposition, Kenyans would still be suffering under the single party rule,” said Karua, during a workshop for officials of Narc Kenya in Kisii town.
Meanwhile, in Naivasha, ahead of an Orange Democratic Movement retreat, Odinga reiterated that there was no need for the opposition because coalition members were able to keep each other in check.

“Grand coalitions are formed in special occasions such as wars or when the margin of an electoral victory is too close to being determined, which means all parties are in government and check on each other. That’s how you have a Cabinet Minister being a whistle blower in the government,” he said.

The PM gave the recent Grand Regency Hotel saga as a perfect example of how coalition members can keep tabs on each other and expose wrong-doing.

He told ODM legislators in Naivasha that there was no way parties in the unity government could be in the opposition at the same time.

“After we formed the grand coalition government some members found themselves in the government as ministers and others assistant minister and others found their names were not there. So if the crime is that I left your name out just say because soon after we started to have cracks in our party,” Odinga stated.

He however said that he was willing to be convinced by party members agitating for the group.

Karua on her part stated that it was regrettable that the same people who had craved for the introduction of the multi-party system were now showing intolerance to divergent views.

Those allied to the Bill for the Grand Opposition have been painted as rebels expressing their displeasure at being excluded from Grand Cabinet, a view shared by President Mwai Kibaki too.

But the fiery Karua said that it was within ones democratic principles to differ.

The bill was introduced by Budalangi MP Ababu Namwamba and is set to be introduced in the August House when it reconvenes next month.

The agitation was thrown out by the House Speaker Kenneth Marende when it was first introduced on the grounds that its proponents came from parties within the unity government.

Namwamba has nevertheless insisted that the bill has garnered enough support from the House.

Agriculture Minister William Ruto and Medical Services Assistant Minister Danson Mungatana have openly supported the bill, whose frontrunners include Charles Kilonzo (Yatta), Bonny Khalwale (Ikolomani), Kiema Kilonzo (Mutito), Joshua Kutuny (Cherangany), Mithika Linturi (Igembe South) and Cyrus Jirongo (Lugari) among others.

Party Politics

Meanwhile, Odinga has announced that ODM would soon embark on national elections and work on strengthening its grassroots structures.

Narc-Kenya leader Karua on the other hand said that her party would fill slots left vacant by interim officials next week, following the defection of some of its members to the Party of National Unity (PNU).


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