, NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 22 – Opposition leader Raila Odinga on Wednesday supported President Uhuru Kenyatta’s objection to Cabinet Secretaries appearing on the floor of the National Assembly to take questions.
Odinga said requiring Secretaries to do so would go against the doctrine of separation of powers between the Legislature and the Executive.
“They are not Members of Parliament,” he said, “therefore you should not invite them to come and intimidate them on the floor of the whole House. That is not right. In that regard I fully support those who say the Executive should not be invited to come before the House.”
He said the only way for the lawmakers to overcome that legal hurdle would be to adopt a Parliamentary, as opposed to a Presidential, system of government.
“A mixed system would probably make for a much more accountable government. You have 50 percent of Cabinet being Members of Parliament and 50 percent are technocrats. So these Members of Parliament are equal to other members, they can answer questions directly on the floor of the House,” he proposed.
But such a system of government would not be part of the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD) referendum agenda, he said, due to the partisan interests of the current National Assembly.
So as things stand, he said, the National Assembly would have to make do with exercising their oversight role through the committees whose summonses Cabinet Secretaries are legally bound to honour.
Odinga also supported President Kenyatta’s decision to honour the International Criminal Court’s summons on October 8, calling him “a man” for doing so.
He did however say it was unnecessary for the Head of State to hand over power to Deputy President William Ruto; terming it, “theatrical.”
“He was away at the United Nations General Assembly in New York for much longer. Why didn’t he hand over his motorcade then?” Odinga poked fun.
He also rubbished pollster findings that a majority of Kenyans did not support a referendum. Arguing that the voters were yet to be made aware of what they would be casting their ballots either for or against.
Through the referendum, Raila said, CORD was looking to use the lessons learnt in 2013 to improve how elections were conducted in the country.
First by having the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) be representative of the different political parties and civil society interests, as was the case in Mozambique where he served as an electoral observer earlier in the month.
He said they were also looking to have the results announced at the polling station be the final ones and to have them transmitted purely electronically.
“There is no rationale whatsoever for IEBC officials sitting in Nairobi, to purport to be verifying figures sent to them by its agents at the polling stations,” he stated.
CORD is also seeking to guarantee, “a reliable,” voter’s register whose contents would be published at least 30 days before a general election and be available within 24 hours on request.
All of which are issues Odinga raised in his 2013 Presidential petition challenging President Kenyatta’s win.
But he was adamant on Wednesday that he was not looking to pave the way for a 2017 presidential bid.
“If you want to introduce a Presidential age limit go ahead and table it. Let the voters decide,” he said to reports that the ruling coalition was looking to lock him out of the race by setting the maximum age requirement for a presidential candidate at 70.
Odinga who has been out of the country for the past fortnight also weighed in on the 134-acre Karen land dispute, saying they were also seeking, through their referendum drive, to ensure the National Land Commission’s powers over public and community land were unassailable.
“Because when you appoint a hyena to watch over your flock, before long you’ll have no sheep left,” he said by way of metaphor.
He accused the Ethics and Anti Corruption Commission of not doing enough to unearth the Sh8 billion Karen land scam despite his Senators failing to share what information they had on the matter with the Commission on Wednesday as promised.
Again on the question of separation of powers, this time between Parliament and Judiciary, Raila took the side of the latter arguing that no matter how unpalatable the orders were, it was imperative they be obeyed.
“I didn’t agree with the Supreme Court ruling on my Presidential petition,” he said, “but all the same, I respected it.”