Kibaki’s coalition proposal over post dismissed
Published on February 28, 2008, 12:00 am
By David Ohito
President Kibaki kicked a fresh power-sharing controversy by announcing he was ready to appoint a Prime Minister “in a Coalition Agreement”.
In a statement from the Presidential Press Service, Kibaki said he had met with the chief mediator in the Kenya National Dialogue and Reconciliation process, Dr Kofi Annan, at his Harambee House offices on Wednesday to thrash out the pending issues, especially in regard to the role of the proposed PM’s office.
Kibaki said the pending issues could be addressed under the current Constitution in Coalition Agreement.
ODM leadership immediately dismissed the statement that the position of PM could be created under the present Constitution, saying it was unacceptable and reminiscent of the trashed Memorandum of Understanding Kibaki trashed at the beginning of his presidency.
The trashing of the 2002 agreement, in which the Liberal Democratic Party and the National Alliance Party were to share positions, caused a political falling out within the Narc Government.
ODM on Wednesday insisted they wanted a strong premiership founded in the Constitution with legal backing and which draws its powers from Parliament.
ODM leader, Mr Raila Odinga, said the party was only interested in a power-sharing agreement or a transition Government that would embark on reforms immediately.
Raila, who spoke at Pentagon House in Lavington, said: “We are not merely interested in power-sharing for the sake of it. We want a transitional government that will embark on legal, institutional and constitutional reforms. We will share power in a government that is reform geared.”
He said only comprehensive reforms of the institutions, legal and constitutional would alleviate recurrence of the problems witnessed in January and this month.
Raila said the party would not put any roadblocks in the way of mediation process, adding that he had fruitful discussions with Annan and former Tanzanian President, Mr Benjamin Mkapa, at Pentagon House.
Raila’s sentiments on the PM position were backed by party Secretary-General, Prof Anyang’ Nyong’o, who said: “ODM is not interested in a coalition Government built on quicksand, but that which has legal and constitutional backing.”
“The establishment of offices of PM and two deputies must be through a constitutional provision,” he said.
Nyong’o said under the current Constitution, the President had powers to hire and fire any minister.
“When the President directs sacking of a minister it takes effect immediately…this is what ODM cannot accept in this power-sharing agreement.”
A lawyer who sought anonymity said under Section 18 of the Constitution, the President has powers to allocate portfolio and appoint a Vice-President and other ministers.
The lawyer said the Constitution only recognises the President, VP, and other ministers without specific reference to the office of the PM.
“This means the PM’s office under the present Constitution is not significant at all,” he said.
The lawyer also took issue with the President’s promise to undertake reforms in a year. “What constitutional reforms can Kibaki undertake in 12 months when he had five years and failed to do so? What would warrant the hurry?” he asked.
Nyong’o said Kibaki’s proposal for a coalition would neither satisfy Kenyans nor ODM in its quest for justice.