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Media tells President, PM to act

NAIROBI, Kenya Feb 21- President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga have been urged to break the deadlock over judicial nominees so that the enactment of the new Constitution can be realised.

The Media Owners Association pointed out that through consensus, the country would safeguard the gains made in the search for a new set of laws.

“Our leadership must take and keep the view of the bigger picture all the time. Sense must prevail now and always. They must calm down and recognise the historic sense of the occasion that they have been given to execute,” MOA chairman Samuel K. Macharia said at a news conference.

Mr Macharia expressed concern over the differences that were being exhibited by parliamentarians over the nominations row.

“We are standing up now to say that actions like the ones contemplated against the Speaker will only exacerbate an already polarised country,” he said.

MPs from PNU affiliated parties opposed to Prime Minister Raila Odinga are planning to overturn the ruling or censor the Speaker, saying that he went beyond his powers.

House Speaker Kenneth Marende last Thursday declared President Kibaki’s nominations unconstitutional.

President Kibaki nominated Justice Alnashir Visram for Chief Justice, Githu Muigai (Attorney General), Kioko Kilukumi (Director of Public Prosecutions) and Mr William Kirwa (Controller of Budget), but there was a hitch following complaints to Parliament by Prime Minister Raila Odinga that he had not been consulted as prescribed in the Constitution.

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Speaking after a meeting of MOA members, Mr Macharia said their demands “were in the public interest and the need to support the full and diligent implementation of the new Constitution.”

They expressed regret that Kenya’s leadership was willing to divide Kenyans by rallying them around tribal causes and whipping up negative emotions about other communities and their leaders.

“We see a leadership that has forgotten the horror and the very serious economic impact of the violence. We are seeing very ominous signs that we have hardly moved from the precipice that this country very nearly plunged into,” Mr Macharia said.

Tom Mshindi from the Nation Media Group said the media would continue to play its role as an independent and impartial entity in its coverage of the subject in order to keep Kenyans informed.

The Media owners also said “We will not stand by and play the role of the public megaphones to allow media platforms spread negative images and messages of hate and divisiveness.”

“We do not want to be misunderstood as saying that we want to curtail the freedoms that anyone has, but we will be very strong and forthright in demanding that when you speak as a leader you speak as someone who is responsible.”

The association’s vice-chairman Kiprono Kittony said it would be a major embarrassment if the country failed to implement the new Constitution. New laws were among the priority targets set at the formation of the Grand Coalition Government.

“We appeal to the political leaders that even as they debate in Parliament (on Tuesday) not to abuse that absolute privilege and tone down their rhetoric because it is having a negative impact on the market,” he said.

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