NAIROBI, Kenya Apr 24 – The president’s State of the Nation address in Parliament on Tuesday has drawn mixed reactions among lawmakers.
MPs picked out the president’s firm declaration that Kenya will not give in to calls to by MRC secede, the constitution implementation process and bid to set up a local tribunal to try post election violence suspects as the main highlights of the speech.
The president’s statement on MRC came barely hours after supporters of the coast based outlawed Mombasa Republican Council clashed with police leaving one person dead.
In his remarks to the House on Tuesday, President Kibaki said that Kenya will continue to be a unitary state despite the introduction of the devolve government system.
“Kenya is one nation and any attempts or calls for secession should be rejected and shall not be tolerated, specifically, the Coast region has been part of, is part of and will remain part of the Republic of Kenya,” he said.
The president later separately met Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Internal Security Minister George Saitoti and security chiefs at the precincts of Parliament.
Coast MPs were divided by the declaration with some backing the president who declared that the government will not accept to calls by any group to secede.
Speaking after the president’s speech former Tourism Minister Najib Balala and Environment Minister Chirau Ali Mwakwere said that the government should engage in dialogue with the group.
Balala said it would send a good message if the government gave them audience.
“We are agreed that we are all under one nation, but the MRC I know is not violent or one that supports chaos. I would advise the government to give them a hearing. it’s not a must that they agree but just listen to their grievances it will not hurt,” said the Mvita MP.
Mwakwere also said the MRC which has been calling for the secession of the Coast Province were raising crucial issues that must be addressed.
“The president is right in what he said, but equally we have a daunting task in our hands, to determine whether the matters being raised have a basis and how can we as a government address them,” said the Matuga MP.
He said the government of which he is a member of, must look for ways to resolve the issues being raised by the MRC.
However, Transport Assistant Minister Hassan Joho and Malindi MP Gideon Mung’aro refused to comment on the matter, saying there was tension in the area.
At the same time, Medical Service Assistant Minister Kambi Kazungu said giving in to the demands of the outlawed group would set a bad precedent.
“If we as Coastals decide that we want to go our own way, and then Western and the Northern Eastern regions did the same, will we have a country called Kenya? So today, I have rebuked their actions which I often said they are violent and terrorist like. They should be dealt
with in the full force of law,” said the Kaloleni MP.
Parliament’s Constitution Implementation Oversight Committee Chairman Abdikadir Mohammed said there is need to ensure that the county structures are in place before the country goes into the next general elections.
Speaking after the president’s speech to the National Assembly, he said they will meet with the Public Service Minister and Local Government Minister to find out the progress they have made in ensuring that the county governments are well staffed and funded.
Abdikadir said that enactment and implementation of the constitution enacted in 2010 will be the hallmark of the current Parliament.
He said they will back the government Motion to extend timelines so as to debate the President’s Memorandum on the County Government Bill and also approve the Bill into law.
The CIOC chairman said he expects Parliament to support a Motion to sit on Thursday morning so to scrutinise amendments proposed by Parliament’s Land and Natural Resources Committee.
The Mandera East MP lauded his colleagues for ensuring that the country met the crucial constitutional implementation timelines but said they must however pass all the laws before August so as to avoid the electioneering period from eclipsing the House Business.
Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi and Eldoret North MP William Ruto have urged Kenyans against politicizing the ICC process.
Speaking after the president’s speech to Parliament, the two said Kenyans should allow The Hague based court to deal with the matter in a fair manner.
Mudavadi said it was a delicate issue to the country and cautioned against public pronouncement which create a perception that the courts are biased.
The Eldoret North MP who is among the four Kenyans facing prosecution at The Hague for crimes against humanity said the country must avoid situations that might deny the country a peaceful election.
He also supported the president’s call for the setting up of a local mechanism to deal with the 2007/2008 post election violence.