Kibaki, PM aides trade barbs over nominees

February 8, 2011 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya Feb 8 – A sitting of the Parliamentary Committee on Finance and Trade which is looking at the legality of recent appointment to constitutional offices was on Tuesday marked by accusations and counter accusations pitting aides to President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga.

The Head of Civil Service Francis Muthaura distanced himself from claims that President Kibaki failed to follow the Constitution in the nomination of William Kirwa as the Controller of Budget.

Mr Muthaura told the Finance Committee that a team of experts had in fact proposed that the job should be advertised.

"The principals discussed our proposals and disagreed with us on the basis of our presentation which was made by some of the legal experts that we  had and they both decided that we should not advertise those jobs instead we sought and presented to them names for consideration," he said.

However, the Premier\’s Chief of Staff Caroli Omondi denied claims of a technical committee ever submitting recommendations to the principals.

"The Committee only met once and it never discussed the nominations of Justice Alnashir Visram and Professor Githu Muigai because the list we had given out had senior counsel Fred Ojiambo not Githu Muigai. At no time had we discussed the name of Kirwa… never," he stated.

Mr Muthaura on his part said that the team formulated an advertisement on December 14 but the two leaders decided to consult and nominate the officers.

The Head of the Civil Service has in the meantime discounted media reports that a consultative meeting between the President and the Prime Minister had failed to reach an agreement on how to end the controversy created by the nominations of top judicial positions.

Mr Muthaura told the committee on the Finance and Trade that the principals had agreed to leave the matter to Parliament and accused the media of disregarding a communiqué from the Presidential Press Service.

"They agreed on the process to be followed, all this things are processes. They have agreed that is the best way forward," he said

He however, could not convince the committee members led by Chairman Chris Okemo of this stand which would have meant that the two committees would have no role to play and the country would have to wait for a new list of nominees.

"The logical thing to do would be, for one of those letters to be withdrawn and say… the first letter from Amb Muthaura is acceptable, act on it as Parliament," he added. "But if you say you have left it to Parliament and here we are struggling between two opposing positions, I don\’t understand what you are saying," Mr Okemo said.

But Mr Muthaura insisted that there were consultations between the leaders on the issue in \’the cordial and very good meeting\’.

"I couldn\’t believe what happened in the media this morning. What comes from the PPS is the communication channel from the Head of State.  You cannot take it like it’s something which can be put aside like that," he said.

At the same time, The Kenyan Chapter of the International Commission of Jurists told the parliamentary committee that the nomination of William Kirwa as the Director of Budget was unconstitutional.

ICJ Council Member Priscilla Nyokabi who also appeared before the committee with other members, said the positions should be advertised so that Kenyans can take part in the exercise.

The ICJ team told the committee that the President Kibaki and the Prime Minister should repeat the exercise and appoint officers who are independent from political interference.

The committee has now summoned the Commission on the Implementation of the Constitution, Judicial Service Commission, and Law Society of Kenya and other professional bodies to present their views on the constitutionality of the nominations by President Kibaki.

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