No light yet in HBC tunnel

April 26, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 26 – President Mwai Kibaki has moved to assert his authority by stating in yet another letter that Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka is the Leader of Government Business.

His letter, which was copied to Prime Minister Raila Odinga, emphasised that Mr Musyoka is also in that right the Chairman of the House Business Committee (HBC) having been ‘nominated as required by the relevant Standing Orders’.

The President’s letter further said, according to the Presidential Press Services (PPS), that the ‘matter’ was therefore closed.

“Having executed that constitutional responsibility, His Excellency the President considered the matter closed and therefore deemed further consultations on the matter as unnecessary,” read a statement from the PPS.

President Kibaki’s letter was in response to one written by the Speaker of the National Assembly Kenneth Marende, in which he sought a solution to the standoff in Parliament over the HBC.

He also wrote in his letter that ‘for the orderly management of Government, Constitutional Institutions and offices should be accorded their due respect and dignity’.

The President’s dispatch came a day after Mr Odinga told Kenyans that the seat was rightly his.

During a funeral service at Lesuiye village, in Eldoret East constituency, the PM explained that since the constitution bestowed the supervisory and coordination role of Government business to the Prime Minister, it followed that the PM whose party has a majority of MPs must also play the same role in Parliament.

Emphasising that Parliament must correct past wrongs, Mr Odinga said the leader of the party with Parliamentary majority must be the Leader of Government Business.

“There is no country in the world where a party with minority MPs heads such an important House committee,” he stressed.

The play of words casts doubt on whether the House will be able to approve the constitution of the HBC by Tuesday, when it is meant to resume after several adjournments last week occasioned by the standoff on who should chair the crucial committee and who its members will be.

The Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) are adamant that the PM should take the slot, their rivals the Party of National Unity (PNU) have accused ODM of being irrational, and other MPs are complaining that they are being dragged into a power struggle between PNU and ODM.

Whatever the case, failure to constitute this committee will paralyse Parliament’s ability to work, because it is the HBC that determines the House’s agenda.

The VP on his part decried an apparent lack of respect for established institutions in the country, warning that such lack of respect for offices could lead to a ‘constitutional crisis and negatively affect leadership’.

He insisted however that the coalition government was working well and would work to resolve their issues.


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