, NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 28 – Parliament Speaker Kenneth Marende has taken up the chairmanship of the House Business Committee (HBC) until President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga resolve the dispute.
The Speaker ruled on Thursday that he would await a unanimous communication from the government nominating the Leader of Government Business who will chair the crucial committee.
He said extra-ordinary situations called for extra-ordinary measures and pointed out that he was determined to unlock the business of Parliament which had been held hostage by the row pitting the Prime Minister and Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka.
"I therefore direct that the Clerk shall publish and circulate the business of the House as approved by the House Business Committee," he said.
Mr Marende reiterated his earlier statement that the Office of the Speaker could not unilaterally dictate to the Executive arm of government how it would conduct its parliamentary affairs.
The impasse was compounded when both principals snubbed the Speaker’s invitation for dialogue to unlock the deadlock.
He said Speaker’s office "would therefore await the name of one Minister consensually designated by the government as the Leader of Government Business."
"It is the expectation of this House that the designation will be made in good faith through consultation and willingness to compromise within a reasonable time," said Mr Marende.
In his ruling, the Speaker said Kenya now had a hybrid system of governance and traditions had to change due to the existence of a coalition government that required the spirit of the National Accord to be implemented and recognised by the Party of National Unity (PNU) and the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM).
He further clarified that no law supersedes the Constitution contrary to opinion expressed by Lands Minister James Orengo who on Wednesday said provisions of the Accord were superior in the event of a conflict with the Constitution.
Mr Marende said the National Accord and Reconciliation Act was read as part of the Constitution since an amendment was made to constitutionalise it.
"No side can govern this country without the other, there must be real power sharing to move the country forward, to lead the country into recognition. The Accord shall while in force be read as part of the constitution, the dichotomy between the constitution and the National Accord is not real, the two are read as one, indeed we have only one constitution of the republic of Kenya," Mr Marende ruled
He said also according to the Standing Orders, nomination of the Leader of Government Business remained the prerogative of the Executive and not Parliament.
But, he opined that Parliament could only express its opinion of the nominee.
Following the ruling, Parliament proceeded to adopt an amended list of nominees to the House Business Committee.
In the new list tabled by Co-Chief Whip George Thuo, five Cabinet Ministers were removed and substituted with fresh individuals.
Those replaced were Kiraitu Murungi, Shakila Abdalla, Esther Murugi, Moses Wetangula, Prof Anyang’ Nyong’o and Henry Kosgey.
They were replaced by Prime Minister Raila Odinga, Beth Mugo, Martha Karua, Dr. Bonny Khalwale, Musikari Kombo and Dr Joyce Laboso.
The Motion was unanimously supported by MPs who also praised Mr Marende for his unbiased ruling.
Agriculture Minister William Ruto said the HBC should speedily come up with the agenda for Parliament in view of the Supplementary Budget that would enable the government secure money to pay for fertilizer and maize that it had purchased.
Internal Security Minister Prof George Saitoti also said the country had pressing issues such as famine, insecurity and reforms and asked the HBC to hasten a new agenda for the third session of Parliament.
Water Minister Charity Ngilu appealed to Mr Kibaki and Mr Odinga to work out their mistrust since it was frustrating the country’s development agenda.
Immediately after the early adjournment on Tuesday, members of the HBC including the Prime Minister and the Vice President met to work on Parliament’s agenda.