NAIROBI, March 31 – Controversy over the National Accord and Reconciliation Act returned to the fore Monday, barely a month after President Mwai Kibaki gave assent to the legislation.
Government negotiator Mutula Kilonzo said the proposed ‘Grand Coalition’ Government could not be managed under the National Accord Act as passed in Parliament two weeks ago.
Kilonzo said the Accord has serious flaws and should be reviewed to handle various disputes that could arise in the Coalition.
The Accord, which was passed during a marathon session of Parliament, elicited dissent from a section of Members of Parliament (MPs) who said it should have been given sufficient time for a thorough debate.
Just a day after the Bill was passed Garsen MP Danson Mungatana and his Laikipia East counterpart Mwangi Kiunjuri pointed out a number of loopholes in the coalition law.
Among them was an unclear distribution of power and lack of ‘dispute settlement’ mechanisms.
Government friendly MPs also claimed they were compelled to pass the Bill alongside the Constitutional Amendment Bill, which provided for the offices of a Prime Minister and two deputies, sealing a 50-50 power sharing deal reached in February by President Mwai Kibaki and his election foe Raila Odinga over the widely disputed presidential election.
Kilonzo said: “The principals ended up agreeing on broad terms; hence a coalition agreement is necessary in order to bring to light the accord that has been agreed.”
He said he had previously tabled a draft coalition agreement that could resolve disputes such as the current stalemate over the cabinet, outline a management structure for the coalition and how to raise issues within the coalition.
In an exclusive interview with Capital News, Kilonzo said the peace negotiating team would discuss the stalemate over the cabinet when it resumes its sittings Tuesday.
“We have no alternative but to revisit Agenda Item Three after President Kibaki and the Prime Minister Designate (Odinga) failed to agree,” he said.
Elsewhere, renowned constitutional lawyer Patrick Lumumba also joined in the debate and said the genesis of the cabinet deadlock could be traced to an undefined word ‘portfolio balance’ in section four (4) where it stipulates consultations between the President and the Prime Minister.
Lumumba said the word ought to have been defined due to the nature of mistrust that dogs the country’s political class.
“Sometimes the constitution doesn’t go into the finer details, but what we are facing is purely a political question and not a legal one, where there is a political will there is a legal way,” he said.
Lumumba said Parliament may have to be recalled for a special session to deliberate and determine the number and the ministries to be created.
“What we are lacking at this point is leadership and patriotism,” he elucidated.
The lawyer made the remarks exclusively to Capital News, where he also urged politicians not to ‘look for excuses in the law to fault a national course’.
As the lawyers grappled with the issue, President Kibaki held a closed door meeting with the current cabinet at his Harambee House office in Nairobi, in a four-hour convergence centred on the implementation of the National Accord Act.
Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka, Attorney General Amos Wako and 15 other ministers attended the meeting which many viewed as a crucial step towards the formation of a new ‘Grand Coalition’ cabinet.
Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetangula and his Science and Technology colleague Noah Wekesa were not in attendance as they were said to be out of the country.
The cabinet has been at the centre of controversy with the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) led by Odinga demanding for the Ministries of Finance, Internal Security and Local Government, which the Kibaki administration has been unwilling to relinquish.
After Monday’s meeting, President Kibaki held brief discussions with Finance Minister Amos Kimunya, Internal Security Minister John Michuki, Defence Minister Yusuf Hajji and Local Government Minister Uhuru Kenyatta.
A brief statement issued after the meeting by the Presidential Press Service, said that the President was also briefed on the progress of the Safaricom Initial Public Offer that was launched last Friday.
The statement further revealed that the cabinet had further agreed to speedily resettle the Internally Displaced Persons with the onset of the rainy season.
Education Minister Sam Ongeri also gave a report on the anomalies of the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education examination results.
( Reports by: JUDIE KABERIA, GEORGE MUNYORI and JAMES SMART)