NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 10 – President Mwai Kibaki has urged Ministers and Assistant Ministers to unite and take common positions on national issues.,
The President emphasised that the Ministers and their Assistants must stand together as members of the Grand Coalition Government and respect the principle of collective responsibility.
"As members of the same Government, we cannot afford to be disunited. We stand together and demonstrate our commitment to the implementation of the Grand Coalition Accord," the Head of State said.
President Kibaki made the remarks when he chaired a meeting for the Ministers and Assistant Ministers at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre on Tuesday.
He reminded them that Kenyans looked up to them for leadership and they would be failing if they did not live up to the expectations of the electorate.
Said the President: "We are supposed to give Kenyans a sense of direction in all national issues but we cannot do that effectively if we appear to be divided."
In this regard, President Kibaki asked the Ministers and the Assistant Ministers to project a common front and vote for the Constitution of Kenya Amendment (Bill No. 25) and the Special Tribunal for Kenya Bill (Bill No. 26) that are critical in entrenching the reform agenda in the country.
The President noted that establishment of a Special Tribunal would give Kenyans a chance to deal with those behind the post-election violence and bring to an end impunity in the country.
Saying the Ministers and Assistant Ministers had a duty of providing direction on the Bills, President Kibaki said they should consult widely within themselves and among other stakeholders so as to iron out contentious issues and incorporate amendments that will improve the bills. He encouraged them to also reach out to their colleagues in Parliament.
Backing the President’s position, Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka stressed the need for members of the Grand Coalition Government to pull in the same direction.
The Vice-President appealed to the Ministers and Assistants to lobby Members of Parliament to support the Bills that would facilitate the establishment of a special tribunal to try perpetrators of the post-election violence locally.
He said Kenya was not a failed state to warrant the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) intervention at The Hague.
The Vice-President said by having a local tribunal, the country would be reaffirming its sovereignty among the nations of the world.
On his part, Prime Minister Raila Odinga reminded the Ministers and the Assistant Ministers that they would be judged collectively and not individually if the Grand Coalition Government failed in any national issue.
"We should work together as a Government. It reflects badly on all of us if Ministers and Assistant Ministers contradict each other in public," the Prime Minister said.
It was agreed during the meeting that with proper amendments to the Special Tribunal for Kenya Bill including the protection of witnesses, a local tribunal would be in a better place to address issues related to post-election violence.
The meeting cautioned that the public should not be misled to think that the International Criminal Court option was in the best interests of the public.
It was pointed out that The Hague was currently overwhelmed with cases from other countries and that cases at the court took too long to be determined.
The meeting further observed that a local tribunal would give Kenyans a good chance to comprehensively deal with last year’s post election violence and place the country on the path of reconciliation and unity.