, NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 16 – The Grand Coalition Management Committee on Thursday set aside their differences and held crisis talks in an attempt to build consensus in the already shaky and divided government.
In the three hour long meeting, the team agreed to build unity and consensus in the running of the coalition government as well as fast track the national reform agenda.
Joint secretaries Miguna Miguna and Kivutha Kibwana read a joint statement on behalf of the team, where Prof Kibwana said that they had consulted widely in a bid to iron out differences on the appointments of key officials in the civil service that has threatened to divide the team.
“It was resolved that the Joint Secretaries will at the next meeting present a paper on the mechanisms of consultations required for such appointments, bearing in mind the existing law,” Prof Kibwana said, adding that the discussions on the issue were extensive and cordial.
The Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) has continually accused their partners Party of National Unity (PNU) of sidelining them in key appointments. PNU has on the other hand objected to what they have called ‘politicisation’ of the civil service.
The meeting came barely two weeks after the aborted Kilaguni retreat in which the partners were unable to agree on the agenda of the talks which has been followed by public disagreements, accusations and counteraccusations between the partners. The President and the Premier met alone for the first time on Wednesday and agreed on the meeting for the committee in place of the usual full cabinet meeting, which ODM had planned to boycott.
The Kilaguni meeting aborted over ODM’s demands for the discussion of appointments and protocol, while PNU wanted the issue of reforms given prominence.
However, the issue of protocol never featured in the Thursday meeting, where President Kibaki and the Premier rallied the team to unite.
“The President remarked that the government should be free from acrimony. He further stated that the Permanent Committee should observe the rule of confidentiality,” Mr Miguna said.
“The Prime Minister called for frank and open discussions that would lead to the resolution of the issues affecting the grand coalition,” he added.
The Premier, who is the ODM Party leader has previously publicly accused the President of running the government single-handedly without consulting him, and further claimed that PNU was disrespecting him and ODM in the running of the affairs of the coalition.
The last one week has however seen a sudden change of heart with the two leaders expressing confidence that they will work out the standoff. On Tuesday, President Kibaki offered Mr Odinga an olive branch when he publicly said that he was confident the partners would keep the coalition together.
The committee meets again next week during which they will continue discussions on the appointments, and an audit of the performance of line ministries in the implementation of the National Reform Agenda. The joint secretaries will also present to the team an institutional framework to effectively facilitate the work of the committee.