Kibaki mediation team criticised

January 16, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 16 – Cabinet Ministers and Members of Parliament have expressed discontent over the 12-member team that was appointed on Thursday to manage affairs of the coalition government.

The Kenya Women Parliamentary Association (KEWOPA) on Thursday threatened to take legal action if the President and the Prime Minister failed to re-constitute it, to include women.

Gender and Children Affairs Minister Esther Murugi said it was unfortunate that the government had not heeded the 30 percent women representation promise.

“We are disappointed and feel insulted as women of this country because we have been talking of the government policy of affirmative action. Where is the 30 percent?” she wondered.

She said it was wrong to have leaders who were expected to ensure policies were followed being at the forefront in violating them.

The Minister asked the President to scrap the affirmative action policy if it was no longer an issue of importance.

Nominated MP Rachel Shebesh also expressed her displeasure saying KEWOPA would request a meeting with the two principals to negotiate for women to be included in the committee.

She complained that the leadership had ignored concerns raised by women despite many attempts to push for their recognition.

“We have kept raising issues about women representation and no one even bothers to reply. It shows we are not important, we are just noise makers and we only need you when they need votes,” she said.

She continued: “We totally reject yesterday’s appointments of ambassadors and the so-called mediation team for the coalition government.  How can we have 52 percent of women who are not represented?  The team is supposed to represent the whole country, or are women not part of it?” she asked.

The nominated MP said in case negotiations between KEWOPA and the two leaders failed, they will explore other actions to push their agenda.

Ms Shebesh said it was unfortunate that the 20 names they had proposed for consideration were ignored and no reply was given.

Her nominated counterpart Millie Odhiambo also said they would request Kofi Annan who chaired the National Mediation Team to meet Kenyan women and renegotiate the power sharing agreement to ensure women were not discriminated.

KEWOPA also criticised leaders involved in the oil and maize scandals. They said it was shameful leaders were involved in stealing, leaving Kenyans to languish in poverty.

Narc Kenya Secretary General Danson Mungatana also questioned the composition of the committee alleging that some of them had been implicated in the ongoing scandals.

He further claimed that there were no consultations done with affiliates in the Party of National Unity.

Youth and Sports Assistant Minister Wavinya Ndeti also lent her weight to the issue saying: “We are the mothers of this country and we can handle any situation. It is not right that all the time something comes up women are left behind. So I ask the President to reconsider his decision and put women in that team.”

Three male MPs also joined the debate, terming it a bid to divert attention from ongoing scandals in government.

Mutito MP Kiema Kilonzo, Yatta’s Charles Kilonzo and Turkana Central MP Ekwe Ethuro said if the government wanted to address issues threatening to split the coalition they should have taken action and charged individuals behind the maize and oil scandals.

“How different is this team from the Serena (mediation) team? They have just dropped three members from Serena and added some more, so I don’t see what purpose it will serve,” Mr Ethuro said in an interview.

Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi, William Ruto (Agriculture), Moses Wetangula, (Foreign Affairs) and James Orengo (Lands) who were all part of the Serena team were appointed to the 12-member committee.

Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Martha Karua, Nairobi Metropolitan Minister Mutula Kilonzo and Higher Education Minister Sally Kosgey were left out.

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