, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 8 – Retired President Mwai Kibaki, has called on parliamentarians to stop squabbling over the structure of key committees and instead focus their energies on the business of legislation.
“Do not let us get into quarrels; you see quarrels evolving now within the parties and everything else. You can see how it can lead us to very petty business. We want to continue in the spirit of men like Mutula,” Kibaki said during the late Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo’s funeral service on Wednesday.
And although Kibaki was adamant it was not his intention to delve into politics during the funeral service, he explained that he felt it necessary to challenge politicians present to show the same unified front they had displayed in the face of the parliamentarian’s death.
“I’m sure in the same way we have stood here as one and paid our respects, we will be stand up (united) leaders outside of here,” Kibaki said.
There was a standoff in Parliament on Tuesday between the main opposition, the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD) and the government side, the Jubilee Alliance, over the control of the Public Accounts (PAC) and Public Investments (PIC) committees.
CORD insisted that its members must chair the two oversight committees for them to participate in House business.
“CORD will not cede ground on the membership and chairmanship of the public watchdog committees, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and the Public Investments Committee (PIC),” CORD Whip Gideon Mung’aro said on Tuesday.
“CORD is dissatisfied with the manner in which Jubilee is using unorthodox means by using its numerical strength to suppress the Minority in the House. We want to state here that it will not be business as usual any longer, CORD will not cede grounds on the majority and chairmanship of PAC and PIC.”
National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi was however categorical that House business would continue regardless given the tight timelines the house has to work within on the budget.
As he did when he was Commander-in-Chief of the Defence Forces, Kibaki unexpectedly elicited laughter when he complimented Kilonzo’s children on their command of the English language. “To see all of them united, strong, speaking very specific, proper English, is very important indeed.”
There was a moment of anxiety when Kibaki missed a step while descending from the dais following his tribute but there was applause when he was helped up and able to make his way safely to his seat.
Kilonzo was charged with various ministries in Kibaki’s administration and was at the helm of the Justice Ministry when the current Constitution passed the 2010 referendum.
The former Head of State pledged to be of assistance to the Kilonzo family in their time of grief. “We are not here just to say goodbye and get away. We are here because of a friend of ours, a genuine friend who was a close personal friend and we all admired him. Do not be shy to call upon us.”