NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 30 – A section of MPs are mulling a censure motion against Prime Minister Raila Odinga following a row with President Mwai Kibaki over recent judicial nominations.
The 14 legislators claimed at a media conference in Nairobi that Mr Odinga was extensively consulted before the appointment of the three nominees by the President for the posts of Chief Justice, Attorney General and Director of Public Prosecutions.
"I have a lot of respect for him (Mr Odinga) but his \’yes\’ and \’no\’ have got the same meaning. The President consulted him widely and even called him when he was in Addis Ababa but he refused to answer. If he continues like this, we are going to move a motion of no confidence against him," warned Kaloleni MP Kambi Kazungu.
They said the appointments were of national importance and should therefore not be politicised.
His Mathira counterpart Ephraim Maina termed Mr Odinga\’s allegations that the appointments were made to serve the interests of a few people as bordering on the incitement of the public.
They questioned how Lands Minister James Orengo and a key ally of Mr Odinga called a press conference on Friday evening to reject the appointees before the announcement was made.
"If it is true that the President had not consulted the PM, how come Honourable Orengo knew details over the appointments? That is extremely disturbing," Mr Maina said.
While maintaining their support for the nominations, the legislators said President Kibaki, who is the appointing authority did not contravene the law which although provides for consultations does not mean that there should be concurrence.
They further said they were waiting for the names of the nominees to be tabled in Parliament.
"As parliamentarians, we want to urge the President to submit those names as soon as possible so that we can discuss them, pass them or refer some of them back for more vetting," said Konoin MP Dr Julius Kones.
It was up to Parliament to determine whether the individuals were competent and of unquestionable integrity, they added.
Meanwhile, Internal Security Minister Prof George Saitoti and his Defence counterpart Yusuf Haji have asked Mr Odinga to stop generating unnecessary anxiety in the country.
"We have confirmed with H.E the President that indeed there were exhaustive consultations before these nominations were made as required by the Constitution. We, therefore, find the claim that the nominations were done without consultations and without adherence to the Constitution disturbing and unwarranted. It should be made crystal clear that consultations were undertaken," a statement dispatched by the Presidential Press Service from Addis Ababa and signed by the two Ministers said.
"Parliament is the body that will decide, on behalf of the people of Kenya , whether the nominees should be appointed. We caution against divisive utterances by leaders that will generate unnecessary anxiety. Specifically, remarks to the effect that the President’s decision has \’thrown the country into a major constitution crisis\’ are exaggerated and uncalled-for," the two ministers who have accompanied the President to the African Union Summit in the Ethiopian capital emphasised.
Public Health and Sanitation Minister Beth Mugo said she feared that the ongoing \’political noise\’ over the nominations was likely to affect the implementation of the constitution and other reforms being undertaken.
She however urged the nominees not to pay any attention to the \’noise\’ but to accept their posts and await Parliament\’s vetting.
"I would also like to urge my colleagues to support the President to implement the new constitution because at the end of the day, the buck stops with him," Mrs Mugo argued.
President Kibaki on Friday evening nominated Court of Appeal Judge Alnashir Visram to head Kenya\’s judiciary. The President also named Professor Githu Muigai the next Attorney General, while lawyer Kioko Kilikumi is listed as the country\’s new Director of Public Prosecutions.
A statement from the Presidential Press Service said the appointments had been made after consultations with the Prime Minister and in accordance with the Constitution, but Mr Odinga insisted he was not involved.
"Hiyo ni Kiswahili, ambaye hatutaki (This is insincerity which we do not want),"said the PM. "Our nation must be led in accordance with the law and respect."
According to the new constitution, any Presidential appointments must be done in consultations with the Premier Minister. However there is no specified way of ascertaining the consultations.
"Because of the principles set out in the constitution which include fair opportunity, merit, competitiveness and transparency, no appointments can be made without inviting applications and creating a process where the candidates are interviewed and interrogated," said the PM.