Monday, April 20, 2009



April20, 2009

Energy Minister Kiraitu Murungi has launched a blistering attack on Prime Minister Raila Odinga, claiming bickering in the Grand Coalition stemmed from the fact that the PM had his sights on the presidency.

"Raila is not satisfied with the office of Prime Minister. He is interested in the presidency and that is why we have all these quarrels," he said.

Kiraitu said the quarrels would not end even if the Head of Civil Service Francis Muthaura and Government Spokesman Alfred Mutua were sacked as demanded by ODM.

Energy Minister Kiraitu Murungi and Head of Public Service Francis Muthaura at a past meeting in Meru. Photo: File/Standard

Speaking during a fundraiser in Mitunguu in Meru, the minister said: "We feared the proposal for a PM during the Bomas talks because we did not want two centres of power. But after the violence that hit the country last year, we agreed that if that is what will bring peace, so be it."

And speaking on the telephone, Nairobi Metropolitan Development Minister Mutula Kilonzo said PNU would not accept the removal of the two dockets from the President’s office, saying doing so would amount to ceding the executive wings to the PM.

"Instead of building the PM’s office constructively, the ODM and PM Raila Odinga seem to think their work is to claw away at the presidency. Kenyans are watching," said Mutula. (See separate story)

‘Disrespecting the President’

Speaking at the Meru function, Kangundo MP Johnstone Muthama accused the PM of disrespecting the President and attempting to rock the Government from within "as he has done with all political parties he has joined before".

Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka, who was present, broached the Kibaki succession debate, saying: "Kiraitu asked me to scout for a big bus that will accommodate all of us and that is what I am currently doing. I am confident that we will succeed in 2012. There is no room for defeat," Kalonzo said.

Others who attended the function were MPs Ntoitha M’Mithiaru, Silas Muriuki and Lenny Kivuti.

The spat, coming only days after the coalition partners appeared to have reached a truce, hints at the rocky road ahead.

On governance, Kiraitu dared ODM to carry on with the push for a federal government structure in the Constitution, saying:

"We are ready for any type of Constitution, including one that embraces majimbo. Sisi hatuogopi majimbo (We are not afraid of majimbo). We will be comfortable with majimbo."

Kiraitu said PNU was ready to go.

"We have Kalonzo, (Deputy PM) Uhuru Kenyatta, (Internal Security Minister) George Saitoti, (Education Minister) Sam Ongeri and (Foreign minister) Moses Wetangula. However, if they defeat us, we are ready to go to the opposition," said Kiraitu.

The VP said he was optimistic that all parties allied to PNU will go to the next elections under one umbrella to form a formidable party.

"There is no political game that can defeat Kiraitu, myself and the others with whom we are working together," Kalonzo said.

Visit by Meru leaders

Kalonzo was in Meru to give momentum to Kibaki’s planned tour of Meru, and which was preceded by a visit by Meru leaders to meet President Kibaki on Friday.

Incidentally, it was Kiraitu who led the delegation. The VP said the recently constituted PNU Council would be expanded to ensure representation from all parts of the country, and supported calls for a new constitutional dispensation.

He assured Kenyans that by the next General Election a new Constitution would in place.

"All the necessary reforms will be carried out before the elections and even the polls will be under a new constitutional dispensation," said the VP.

Kiraitu concurred with the VP that only a new constitution could address the challenges facing the Coalition Government.

"My advice to Raila, who I have a lot of respect for since we were together in the opposition, is to work with us to fast track a new constitution," Kiraitu said.

At the same time, Kalonzo called for the split of vast provinces like Rift Valley and Eastern into three and that "if Kenyans want to choose to convert them into regions, we shall take it".

Said Kalonzo: "Rift Valley Province should be split into North, South and Central Rift Valley; while Eastern Province should be divided into Upper, Central and Lower Eastern."

Last Friday, legislators from the larger Meru region paid a courtesy call on President Kibaki at Harambee House for consultation.

The consultations, according to a statement from the Presidential Press Service, dwelt on development needs of the area.

Kibaki’s ‘unrivalled record’

"President Kibaki assured the legislators of the Government’s commitment to equitably develop all parts of the country," said the statement.

Kiraitu is reported to have thanked President Kibaki for his "unrivalled development record since the country’s independence".

The group singled out education, youth welfare, infrastructure development and provision of affordable health services as some of the key achievements of President Kibaki’s Government.

Further, the MPs thanked the President for creating Igembe North, Tigania East, Buuri and Tharaka North districts. They also singled out construction of the Ishiara-Ciakariga, Subuiga-Isiolo and Meru-Mikinduri-Athi Tea factory roads as some of the recent priority projects implemented by the Government.

Among the issues the legislators listed as priority projects in the region and asked the Government to focus on water projects, construction of roads, roll out the Kazi kwa Vijana programme in the region and expand digital villages in local trading centres to promote technology use and create employment for youth.