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Kenya power struggle paralyses Parliament

NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 23 – Supremacy wars between the main coalition partners in the Grand Coalition government paralysed operations of Parliament for the second day running on Thursday and delayed the constitution of the crucial House Business Committee (HBC).

The House adjourned for the third time in two days ‘to allow for consultations’ on the person to be Leader of Government Business as both the Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka fought for the control of the crucial committee.

The Prime Minister has overruled President Mwai Kibaki’s appointment of Mr Musyoka to the chair and instead appointed himself in a letter to the Speaker.

Mr Marende said he would “seek direct audience with both the President and the Prime Minister” on the matter but cautioned that his office was not going to engage itself in the squabbles of the coalition partners. He said he would deliver his ruling on the way forward next Tuesday.

“The Speaker cannot and will not endeavour to engage himself in these matters,” he said.

Whilst the standing orders recognise the ‘government’ as the appointing authority legislators jostled with the question of whom exactly is the government. The Party of National Unity lieutenants maintained that President Mwai Kibaki was the one entitled to appoint the Leader of Government Business.

“The National Accord is very clear that the President is both the Head of State and Government,” Tigania East Peter Munya said.

“It is up to you Mr Speaker to tell the country because we have to be transparent about what they are saying in those letters,” said Nairobi Metropolitan Minister Mutula Kilonzo in reference to separate communications from the President and Prime Minister to the Speaker.

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The Orange Democratic Movement on the other hand insisted that by virtue of being equal to the President, the Prime Minister was entitled to be consulted in the appointment.

“The way forward is for the government in place to fix this mess that we are now witnessing. They should, in the spirit of the Accord, go back and consult and reach an agreement not only on the question of the composition of the House of Business Committee but also on who is to be Leader of Government Business,” Lands Minister James Orengo said.

Backbenchers expressed disappointment with the coalition wars and threatened to go ahead with the business of the House as the Executive sorted its supremacy wars.

“The leadership of that committee (House Business) cannot be determined from State House. It must the leader of this House who enjoys the confidence of the House,” Imenti Central MP Gitobu Imanyara said.

“Government is at the moment dysfunctional. If the government is not able to work we should move a Motion of No Confidence and send all of them home. We must rise above petty issues and constitute Parliament as is normally done,” Chepalungu MP Isaac Ruto said.

If the Motion of constituting the committee is defeated, the House cannot transact business for the next six months and this is likely to paralyse government operations.

“As we stand government cannot disburse monies to attend crucial and critical matters facing this nation because we cannot get on with business of this House and pass the Supplementary Budget,” Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta regretted.

The HBC decides the business of the House by setting the agenda of Parliament.

(Anthony Kagiri, Laban Wanambisi and Judie Kaberia contributed to this story).

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