Kenya PM suggests snap polls

April 26, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 26 – Prime Minister Raila Odinga has said that Kenya should go to the polls if partners in the grand coalition government fail to honour the implementation of provisions in the National Accord.

While addressing a rally in Kibera on Sunday the premier insisted that the accord vested the Premier’s office with the authority to supervise and coordinate government affairs from within and without the precincts of Parliament.

He ruled that his responsibilities in the August house were clearly spelt out in the document.

“I cannot exercise the role of the Prime Minister when I am outside parliament while a different person assumes my responsibilities in the August house. I’m not an appointee of the president but an equal partner in the coalition,” he stressed.

The PM dismissed those opposed to his quest for the chairmanship of the House Business Committee (HBC) saying the position was not negotiable, as it squarely belonged to the leader of the party with the majority seats in parliament.

“Our role in the coalition must be respected because we ceded more grounds than we expected for the sake of peace but our partners have pushed us to our limits. If they honour the national accord, ODM is ready for fresh polls.”

His sentiments were echoed by Higher Education Minister Sally Kosgei who argued that those opposed to the appointment were disregarding the national accord, which supercedes the constitution for the time the coalition government exists.

“Those from the other side base their arguments on the constitution which took a back seat when the accord was signed. By brining up baseless arguments all the time in Parliament they are holding this country at ransom,” she said.

Last Thursday, Speaker of the National Assembly Kenneth Marende deferred his ruling on the matter of HBC Chairman to Tuesday, to pave way for negotiations among coalition partners whose differences seem to widen by the day.

Also speaking on Sunday, Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka, whom the President has appointed as Leader of Government Business, said the Kenyan constitution is clear on the issue of Presidential appointments and there is no reason for the country to be subjected to unnecessary debate.

Mr Musyoka said that Presidential appointments under the established legal framework cannot be contested.

The VP made the remarks at Kirenga Primary School grounds in Lari division, during the Installation of Bishop Geoffrey Gichure and his Deputy, Rev John Kingori of the African Inland Church.

“It is important for parliament to establish the House Business Committee to enable it start transacting on crucial issues including the reforms under Agenda Item 4 of the National Accord,” he stressed.

Earlier, Members of the Party of National Unity (PNU) remained adamant that VP Musyoka is the Leader of Government Business.

Led by affiliate Democratic Party chairman Wilfred Machage, the PNU members said on Sunday that the issue was being politicised and cited section 30 of the constitution which they said recognised the Head of State as the Leader of Government Business.

“And because the President ordinarily does not always attend Parliament sessions all the time, he delegates this portfolio to a Minister of his choice,” the former Bomachoge legislator stated.

“That has been the law and indeed the tradition for 45 years and was not catered for by the national accord as we know it,” he added.

The more than 20 members of PNU, who included Cabinet Ministers Naomi Shaaban and Moses Wetangula with legislators Johnson Muthama and Bifwoli Wakoli, also said that it was not the prerogative of the National Assembly Speaker to interpret the constitution on the matter.

Meanwhile the National Council of Community Based Organisations (CBOs) termed the issue petty to paralysis parliament business.

“Mr President it is important that Parliament starts working immediately or dissolve it so that we can go for snap elections. Kenyans are tired of these types of power games that cannot change this country,” said the CBO President Tom Aosa.

ODM is rooting for the PM to be named the Leader of Government Business, while the President has maintained that he has appointed the VP to that post and termed the matter closed.

The acrimony has paralysed parliamentary sessions.


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