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Kenya's third president Mwai Kibaki seen here with Prime Minister Raila Odinga. May 20, 2012.


Kibaki, PM meeting that never was

NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 20 – President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga did not meet on Tuesday as widely speculated as it turned out that the premier was not ready to re-negotiate his preference for a December election date.

Sources close to the Prime Minister told Capital FM News that there was no planned meeting with the President.

President Kibaki spent a better part of Tuesday in his office at Harambee House.

“The Prime Minister is not ready to change his position. He is sticking to his December election proposal,” a source in his office said, dismissing as propaganda reports that Odinga planned to meet with the President to re-negotiate the election date.

The Prime Minister has opposed the March 4, 2013 election date set out by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), saying it is not favourable with a majority of Kenyans.

Odinga argues that the election date set out by the IEBC is likely to inconvenience learning in schools because the polls will be held in the middle of the school term.

The Education Ministry has however, clarified that learning in schools will not be affected, in any way if polls are held in March next year because schools will be on half term.

The PM’s position was reinforced by a statement from the Raila Odinga Secretariat on Tuesday insisting that the election date set out by the IEBC will not be proper for Kenyans and demanded a December poll.

The statement called for a sober debate on the election date and warned politicians against misleading Kenyans.

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“There is a need for cooling of temperatures, so that we can address the critical implications of a March 2013 election and find an appropriate way forward,” the statement said.

It argued that aside from the traditional practice of going to the polls in December, the Prime Minister has raised concerns about disrupting the school calendar and the farming season with political campaigns that could very well take the entire first half of next year.

“This is definitely not desirable, especially when it is not exceptionally obligatory or necessary,” it added.

The Raila secretariat said a March election raised serious timeline issues for the government’s annual financial estimates, noting that “it is important to read the Articles of the Constitution that pertain to elections, together with those on the financial estimates.”

“It is important to recognise, too, that our government budget is also enshrined in the East African Community Treaty. This, among other things, requires that the financial estimates be made in June, together with those of Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania and Burundi In the event that we go to the polls in March, there is every likelihood that we could place not just the Kenya Government budget but also the EAC budget process in jeopardy,” the statement said.

The Raila Secretariat drew its argument from Article 221(1) of the Constitution which provides that estimates of revenue and expenditure be submitted to the National Assembly at least two months before the end of each financial year, vide April 30.

“A March election date does not take into account the necessity for a new Treasury Cabinet Secretary to be in position early enough to prepare and submit the financial estimates to Parliament by April 30,” the statement said and warned that “ We risk running into a constitutional crisis in trying to impose on a new Government and Parliament the duty of approving and executing a budget they did not take part in preparing. In any event, any unfinished business by the Tenth Parliament will die with its dissolution in January.”

President Kibaki and a section of MPs allied to him favour a March election.

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