Kibaki chairs urgent Cabinet talks

March 5, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 5 – President Mwai Kibaki on Thursday began chairing a hurriedly convened Cabinet meeting that was expected to address divisions in the troubled Coalition Government.

The meeting at State House Nairobi took place barely a day after coalition partners from the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) allied to Prime Minister Raila Odinga expressed their displeasure with the way the unity government was being run.

The MPs accused the Party of National Unity (PNU) of failing to uphold the spirit of the National Accord.

In response, the President’s PNU party dared their partners in ODM to quit the coalition if they were not satisfied with the peace agreement as it was.

A number of ministers had to cancel official engagements to attend the meeting, which was widely seen as an attempt to stop public bickering between the Coalition partners who have just marked a year since they entered into the agreement.

Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka was scheduled to go to Naivasha for the launch of the Olkaria III power plant, but had to put it off. Usually ministers are notified in advance if they are to meet, so that they keep their diaries free.

On Tuesday, ODM called for the re-negotiation of the National Accord but PNU wanted to hear none of it.

Ministers have complained that since the formation of the government that the biggest problem has been a communication breakdown between the partners, their party organs and MPs.

A top level 14-member team was in January named to streamline the affairs of the Grand Coalition Government amid fears that it could collapse before 2012.

The committee, which will serve on permanent basis until the end of the Grand Coalition, is led by President Kibaki and Mr Odinga.

Other members of the team are Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka, Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, Cabinet Ministers George Saitoti, Chirau Ali Mwakwere, Martha Karua and Moses Wetangula from the PNU side. ODM has Deputy PM Musalia Mudavadi and Cabinet Ministers Charity Ngilu, William Ruto, Mohammed Elmi, Jeffa Kingi and James Orengo on board.

The Cabinet meeting also comes amid uncertainty over whether both principals will attend a meeting in Geneva, Switzerland called by the former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan to review the progress of the coalition.

On Wednesday, PNU took issue with the summons by Mr Annan saying it was an affront to Kenya’s sovereignty and urged the President to shun the talks.


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