NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 27 – Constitutional expert PLO Lumumba has said that the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) should blame its negotiators for flaws in the National Accord that are frustrating Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s quest to become the Leader of Government Business in Parliament.
In an interview with Capital News, Dr Lumumba said the current law empowered President Mwai Kibaki to appoint a minister of his choice to the crucial position.
“I am shocked that late in this day there is an argument as to the presidential powers to do what he had been doing for many years. President Kibaki has done what the law empowers him to do. Whether there have been consultations or not, that is not for me and you,” he said.
The outspoken lawyer pointed out that based on traditions in Kenya, Presidents only go to Parliament on special occasions and therefore designate their principal assistant – who is the Vice President to be Leader of Government Business.
Dr Lumumba said the National Accord did not address the position of the Leader of Government Business, and advised ODM to accept its failures and instead champion a speedy conclusion of the constitution review process.
“What I would expect my friends in ODM to do is to say is… it appears that the Act did not reflect what we wanted it to reflect and we want it to be renegotiated to make appropriate amendments to get what we want,” he said.
He also told ODM to forget ‘the spirit of the Accord’ saying it could have worked out if only it was legislated.
Dr Lumumba also disagreed with ODM’s argument that it had the majority in Parliament and deserved the position of Leader of Government Business.
He said it could have worked if there was a parliamentary system of governance in place.
Kenya has a hybrid system of governance where there is only one government of national unity made up of all political parties represented in Parliament except for KADDU.
Dr Lumumba said: “That argument of a majority is something we are trying to import into a hybrid system and it is only legitimate in a Parliamentary system which we don’t have.”
He opined that the only way out of the argument was a constitutional dispensation to decide on the best system of governance to avoid such confusions.
During the interview the lawyer strongly criticised Mr Odinga and Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka for taking their protocol fights to Parliament.
He also blamed Members of Parliament who he said had taken debate out of Parliament contrary to House rules that prohibit lawmakers from discussing parliamentary matters outside the House.
“What we see here is not law. This is a struggle for power and this is an ego contest. That is why everybody has disobeyed what is required. They are now speaking at funerals and public rallies; they are appealing to emotions of the public because the public don’t know the law,” he said.
He described it as a regrettable tragedy to anyone who cared for Kenya. He urged either of the principals to back down on their position to allow Parliament to carry on with its business.
NO SNAP POLL
The lawyer dismissed calls for snap elections before 2012 saying they were likely to trigger a situation worse than the 2007 post-poll violence due to the tough economic and social challenges facing the country.
Dr Lumumba said it was unfair for politicians to think of holding elections at such a time when there was no body to conduct elections and the absence of a proper voters’ register.
He also said the country had not progressed as expected in its recovery process of dealing with tribalism, reforms, unemployment and resettlement of internally displaced persons.
The crisis generated by militia groups and the Migingo Island row were also some of the pointers that Mr Lumumba said were unfavourable for any election to take place.
He instead called for a proper reform agenda.