Showdown looms in Kenya Parliament

April 27, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 27 – A section of backbenchers and Assistant Ministers have vowed to ensure that Parliament kicks off its operations despite the current feud on the position of Leader of Government Business.

The MPs met on Monday and resolved to ensure that the business of the House was not interrupted anymore. The legislators maintained that they would not allow the stand-off between the President and Prime Minister over the position to derail their work.

“we as Parliament have resolved that we shall do our work and tomorrow (Tuesday) in the afternoon we shall pass the list of the House Business Committee as agreed on by the various parties,” Chepalungu MP Isaac Ruto read a short statement on behalf of the legislators.

And as the backbenchers distanced themselves from the power tussle the Orange Democratic of Movement and the Party of National Unity continued woth their claim for the crucial seat.  ODM maintained that the post belonged to them and expressed optimism that the Speaker Kenneth Marende would rule in their favour on Tuesday.

Addressing a media briefing, party chairman Henry Kosgey said the demand by the Prime Minister to be the Leader of Government Business was based on logic, precedence and a sense of fair play.

“We do hope that the Speaker would rule in our favour because the law is very clear,” said Mr Kosgey.

Parliament adjourned its business three times last week as the controversy on the post raged. While President Mwai Kibaki maintained that he had appointed Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka to the post, Prime Minister Raila Odinga wrote to the Speaker appointing himself.

Before the House adjourned last Thursday, Mr Marende gave an assurance that he would rule on the issue on Tuesday, if the two principals would not have closed ranks, although he had indicated that he would in the spirit of unity reach out to the two.

Mr Kosgey denounced the notion that the debate on who shall be the Leader of Government Business and the chair of the House Business Committee is a power struggle between Mr Odinga and Mr Musyoka.

“We emphasise that our demand that the PM to be the Leader of Government Business is not a contest between him and the Vice-President. The contest ended in 2007 and we know who won,” he said.

The Speaker’s ruling is expected to be based on the Constitution. The law recognises that the ‘government’ nominated the Leader of Government Business but with the National Accord recognising two equal partners MPs last week unsuccessfully failed to define who the government is. Members from both sides argued on whom between the President and PM should appoint the Leader of Government Business.

While PNU maintains that the President is the head of government ODM maintains that the Premier should be consulted while the appointment is made since he is an equal partner.

The ODM Chairman in the meantime backed the Prime Minister in his call for fresh election if the country was to have stability and predictability in order to attract investment and creates jobs.

“It is our desire to uphold the democratic tradition across the world where the leader of majority party in the House becomes not only in the PM but also the Leader of Government Business. Since our coalition partners look uncomfortable with this tradition and with proper power sharing we join the Prime Minister in calling for fresh elections,” he said.

He accused PNU of polarising the country.


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