, NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 15 – The Orange Democratic Movement on Monday declared a crisis in the management of the Grand Coalition Government and called on the African Union and chief mediator Kofi Annan to intervene to resolve the impasse.
Deputy Party Leader Musalia Mudavadi urged the continental body to determine the simmering row between the coalition partners over corruption claims.
“The PM as the leader of ODM has declared a dispute between the Coalition Partners and seeks the immediate intervention of the African Union, in particular the Office of the Eminent African Personalities chaired by Dr Kofi Annan, to convene a meeting to discuss the current crisis with a view to resolving it,” said Mr Mudavadi.
The development comes after President Mwai Kibaki contradicted a suspension order issued by the PM against Cabinet Ministers Sam Ongeri and William Ruto, saying they will remain in office to facilitate a probe into the maize and free education scandals, in which the two ministers have been implicated.
The Orange Democratic Party said it stood by its party leader: “The PM had acted strictly in accordance with the law in making the suspensions although the President’s statement alleged that he had not been consulted.”
“The law is clear on matters of discipline, suspension or interdiction of public officials including Cabinet Ministers, the Prime Minister has exclusive authority. The Prime Minister does not share that power or authority with the President.”
At the same time, he said the party would remain in the Coalition adding that the meeting sought would aim to seal some of the loopholes that had been exposed in the National Accord.
“This is not the only issue that has come up as a dispute. But the message that is being sent across from this is that the mechanisms that we have been using for dispute resolutions have not been as effective as they ought to be,” Mudavadi said in a statement.
The Deputy PM said: “Let’s call a spade a spade… the starting point will always remain that the two principals must confer and have broad agreement for even that management committee to be relevant.”
Mr Mudavadi, who is one of the Deputies in the Grand Coalition Government, said official communication would be made to the AU in the course of the week.
He made the statement on behalf of the PM who is on a week-long official tour of Japan and Thailand.
The ODM deputy party leader emphasised that the move by the party was not aimed at scuttling the constitution review process.
“The bigger problem in my view is also to deliver a new constitution we are still going to have additional challenges along the way, recognition must come out clearly to Kenyans that further consultations are necessary to ensure that the key objectives of the coalition when it was set up are achieved,” he said.
The Grand Coalition Government was formed in February 2008 following ethnic fighting in which 1,500 people died and 300,000 were displaced following the contested 2007 General Election Presidential results.
Here is ODM’s statement in full:
Yesterday, Sunday February 14th, the Prime Minister of the Republic of Kenya, the Rt. Honourable Raila Amolo Odinga, ordered the suspension, with immediate effect, of the Minister for Agriculture, Hon. William Ruto, and the Minister for Basic Education, Hon. Samuel Ongeri, for a period of three months.
In making that decision, the Prime Minister exercised his constitutional powers under Section 15(a) of the Constitution of Kenya, and Section 4(1) of the National Accord and Reconciliation Act.
Kenyans are aware that two recent investigations: the forensic audit by the PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC) on the maize scandal, and the Report of the Internal Auditor General on Free Primary Education, have laid a foundation for the two ministers to be investigated.
After the Prime Minister issued his order, media reports indicated that His Excellency the President, Mwai Kibaki, also issued a contrary statement, purporting to quash the Prime Minister’s Order. Indeed, President Kibaki is reported to have stated that under both the Constitution and the National Accord, the Prime Minister has no power to appoint, discipline, suspend or fire a cabinet minister; even those that the Prime Minister had himself appointed in accordance with both the law and the power sharing agreement.
ODM wishes to categorically state that under both the Constitution and the National Accord, both the President and the Prime Minister are the Two Principals. The Grand Coalition Government was only formed pursuant to the National Accord signed on February 28th, 2008. The National Accord expressly stipulates that both Principals agreed to share power equally in order to bring peace to this country. Legally and constitutionally, neither the President nor the Prime Minister is superior to the other.
In announcing the suspension of the two Cabinet Ministers, the Prime Minister acted strictly in accordance with the law. Although the President’s statement alleges that the Prime Minister has “removed” the two ministers without consulting him and seeking his written “concurrence,” the law is clear: on matters of discipline, suspension or interdiction of public officials including cabinet Ministers, the Prime Minister has exclusive authority. The Prime Minister does not share that power or authority with the President.
We note with concern, however, that on Saturday February 13th, the President unilaterally purported to suspend for three months several senior government officers, including two in the Prime Minister’s Office who had earlier voluntarily stepped aside.
Contrary to the President’s statement, Section 4(5) of the National Accord and Reconciliation Act clearly states that:
“[T]he removal of any minister nominated by a Parliamentary party of the coalition shall be made only after prior consultation and concurrence in writing with the leader of that party.”
It is crystal clear that the section cited by the President only means that he cannot legally dismiss an ODM Minister without first obtaining written concurrence from the Prime Minister. Similarly, the Prime Minister cannot dismiss a PNU Minister without obtaining written concurrence of the President.
That is the law. No one can be permitted to twist those clear provisions of both the Constitution and the National Accord for narrow parochial political interests!
In view of the above, the Prime Minister as the leader of ODM has declared a dispute between the Coalition Partners and seeks the immediate intervention of the African Union, in particular the Office of the Eminent African Personalities chaired by His Excellency Dr. Kofi Annan, to convene a meeting to discuss the current crisis with a view to resolving it.