Councillors tell Kenyan President sorry

May 15, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 15 – Councilors have now apologised to President Mwai Kibaki following an embarrassing incident on Friday where they heckled him after their demands for a pay hike before supporting the ‘Yes’ Constitution campaign were rejected.

The over 3,000 civic leaders who held another meeting with Prime Minister Raila Odinga early on Saturday, clarified that their fury was not directed at the President but the chairman of the Committee of Experts Nzamba Kitonga, whom they accused of belittling them.

The CoE Chair had said that the civic leaders were undergoing \’masomo ya ngumbaru\’, which is reference to education provided to illiterate adults.

The councilors led by Nairobi Mayor Geoffrey Majiwa and Association of Local Government Authority Kenya (ALGAK) chairman Tarayia ole Kores, said they would lobby for the passage of the proposed Constitution. They presented a list of demands to the PM which they want addressed at a later date.

Mr Majiwa started by saying: “I greet you this morning in the name of the ‘Yes’ campaign. Good morning? We want to ask our President for forgiveness for what happened yesterday and it does not mean that we do not support the proposed Constitution. We are saying Yes.”

The group of councilors also distanced themselves from those who jeered at Friday’s meeting saying those were not true leaders.

“Burglars came in through the back door. But let me say this to all our visitors in Nairobi… when you visit us please remember that we love peace and we are saying ‘Yes’. If you want to say ‘No’ please say it outside Nairobi so that there is no conflict between us,” said Mr Majiwa.

The ALGAK chairman who also said the civic leaders would support the ‘Yes’ campaign however argued that civic leaders were often shut out of consultations when plans for projects within councils were being undertaken.

“We have been locked out of the Roads Boards.  We are asking that councilors be considered in decision making processes especially when Acts are being designed and implemented,” he said. 

The Premier concluded the meeting with calls to the civic leaders to support the proposed Constitution saying it would ensure equitable distribution of resources and empower local government.

Mr Odinga who turned the forum into a ‘Yes’ campaign ahead of Saturday’s rally at Uhuru Park, also asked the councilors to desist from being hoodwinked by those against the proposed law.

“Some will come with envelopes with ‘kitu kidogo’ here and there just like someone who wants to slaughter chicken tricks them with maize.  The chicken in its naivety thinks the owner is being overly generous while in actual sense he wants to make stew out of the chicken,” he said amidst laughter.

The Premier also equated the drive for a new Constitution to a peaceful revolution saying the local government leaders should focus on creating the country’s historical moment.

“I want you to stand proud as Kenyan soldiers who know they are going to win so that we can defeat the devil. Shetani ashindwe (the devil should be defeated). We have to get the Constitution this time… if not now, then right now,” he said.

Others present included Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi, Medical Services Minister Anyang’ Nyong’o, Minister for Lands James Orengo, Public Works Minister Chris Obure, National Heritage Minister William ole Ntimama, Northern Kenya development Minister Mohammed Elmi, Livestock Development Minister Mohamed Kuti, Assistant Minister Youth Affairs and Sports Wavinya Ndeti and Assistant Minister Local Government Lewis Nguyai.


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