Saturday, April 25, 2009



Prime Minister Raila Odinga waded into the raging controversy over the leadership of the House Business Committee (HBC) with a declaration his party would not abandon the fight for the top seat.

Raila said the world over, it is the Premier who serves as Leader of Government Business in Parliament, a position that complicates the search for a solution to the impasse between him and Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka.

Flanked by Agriculture Minister William Ruto and five other ODM MPs from the North Rift, Raila vowed the party will not allow another leader "with a party of 12 MPs" to assume the position while the Constitution was clear on the holder.

"The Constitution says the leader of the party with majority MPs in the House becomes the Leader of Government Business. How can a leader of a party with 12 MPs lead the majority? Where on earth has this happened? This seat belongs to ODM and we cannot allow another mistake to occur," Raila said at a burial in Eldoret East constituency.

But speaking in Gucha District Musyoka stuck to his guns, saying President Kibaki was the country’s chief executive by election and agreement and deserved respect.

He added: "We are going to move on and there are no two ways about it."

The VP called on Kenyans to respect the Executive, the Judiciary, and the Legislator.

"The debate makes Parliament what it is and it can be hotter than what it was yesterday. It was even worse during Shikuku’s (Martin) time," he said.

Elsewhere, former Cabinet Minister Martha Karua said Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka is the man who should take the role of Leader of Government Business in the House.

President’s deputy

Karua, while in Kirinyaga, said although the accord calls for equal power sharing, the President has designated Kalonzo to be the Leader of Government Business in Parliament.

"The President appoints the Prime Minister and hence the hierarchy is very clear. The President designates his vice to deputise for him in Parliament," she noted.

ODM dug in barely a day after House Speaker Kenneth Marende said he would consult the President and the PM to unlock the impasse, which has paralysed Parliament.

Raila dismissed claims by Party of National Unity members that the President appointed him, saying he had the mandate of the people.

"We won the election and because of loss of lives due to the post-election violence we agreed to share the loaf. This is an indication that I was not hungry for power because I could have not agreed to negotiate. We have been gentle for long and this should not be misconstrued," he said.

Raila said in Tanzania, Uganda, UK and Germany, the Prime Minister was the Leader of Government Business in Parliament and wondered why Kenya wanted to adopt a different position.

Ruto said ODM was committed to tackling problems in the Coalition Government and warned the ongoing debate should not be taken lightly.

"Raila is the co-ordinator and supervisor of Government affairs both outside and inside Parliament, and if they feel the post of Prime Minister is superior to that of President, then President Kibaki should become the Prime Minister and Raila becomes the President," he said

He also said the Constitution was clear on the matter and that ODM will not relent in the quest for its share in Government and must be recognised as an equal partner.

"We have no problem with Kalonzo Musyoka being the Vice-President, but he cannot pretend to be the Leader of Government Business in the Parliament while he has few MPs in the House. This is unconstitutional," said Ruto.

Public Service Minister Dalmas Otieno said: "Even if Prime Minister Raila Odinga agrees with President Kibaki’s choice of the Vice- President for the position, as ODM MPs we will not allow it."

Speaking in Mombasa, Otieno claimed there was an attempt to derail reforms by creating a wedge between the President and the Prime Minister so that they would be blamed in 2012 for having failed to bring reforms.

"There are some leaders who have started campaigning for 2012 to undermine the reforms and this ODM leaders will not allow," said Otieno.

Fight not between PM and VP

ODM Chief Whip Jakoyo Midiwo, said: "Kenyans should not misread the PM’s quest for the Leader of Government Business as a fight with Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka."

Central Imenti MP Gitobu Imanyara warned PNU to stop reading the law as if the National Accord never exists.

"Appointment to HBC and that of the Leader of Government Business must reflect the reality of the composition of the House. President Kibaki must consult the PM on all important legislative matters and agenda. I fear the HBC is full of people who only paint a gloomy picture for reforms. It has people who have never shown commitment to change," Imanyara said.

The Law Society of Kenya Chairman Okong’o O’mogeni said the rift was as a result of each group allowing strangers to the accord to get in between them.

"These strangers are elbowing their way into the business of government to which they did not bind themselves" warned O’mogeni. He wants the President and Prime Minister to hold urgent face-to-face consultations to end the impasse.

"Given the current situation, neither side can realistically govern without the other. As partners in a Coalition Government, we committed ourselves to work together in good faith as true partners through constant consultation and willingness to compromise," read part of the agreement signed by the two principals.

Reports by David Ohito, Beauttah Omanga, Anderson Ojwang’, Munene Kamau, Morton Saulo, Willis Oketch, Kenan Miruka.