Mt Kenya leaders petition Kibaki
Published on March 9, 2008, 12:00 am
By Gakuu Mathenge and Athman Amran
Politicians from the Mt Kenya region are jittery about the shape and form of the coalition government.
The leaders fears the 50-50 criterion of power sharing could result in the region being left out of government.
And the Central Kenya Parliamentary Group (CPG) is now said to be pressing for an appointment with President Kibaki to discuss their concerns.
In what appears to be a concerted effort to get the region’s political voice heard, two petitions have been written to President Kibaki – one by the CPG that has 50 members, and another by MPs from Meru. The groups have made demands on the Head of State ahead of the crafting of the anticipated coalition government.
It is the first time in the last five years of turbulent politics that the regions’ political leaders have put down on paper any demands to the President and his State House handlers, an indication of either budding independence or raging turf battles in the vicious palace wars around State House.
While supporting the Coalition government and restoration of peace, the two documents demand the region be accorded fair representation in government commensurate with its voting strength and the support it gave to President Kibaki at the ballot box during the December 27 General Election.
Among issues causing jitters is the fact that the region voted overwhelmingly for President Kibaki and it was now likely to be left out of government as envisaged under the 50-50 rule as contained in the Coalition agreement signed by the President Kibaki and Prime Minister-designate and ODM leader, Mr Raila Odinga.
“If the Cabinet comprises 34 ministers, it can be argued that President Kibaki has already exhausted his slots and therefore should leave the rest to Orange Democratic Movement and Raila to fill. As it is now, Cabinet appointments are not commensurate with the voting strength of Mt Kenya region. If the imbalance is not considered, it would amount to a political injustice against the region and its people,” a source told The Sunday Standard.
A letter, dated March 4, seeking appointment for the CPG with President Kibaki, and whose contents The Sunday Standard obtained says in part: “The group has genuine fears that given the current political situation, the central Kenya might be discriminated against and denied its rightful political representation in government. The group would appreciate to meet your Excellency at the earliest opportunity and preferably before the finalisation of the coalition government.”
Have signed petition
The CPG chairman and Mathira MP, Mr Ephraim Maina, signed the petition.
When reached for comment, Maina said the region’s political leadership was fully behind the efforts to craft the coalition government, resettlement and compensation of internally displaced people. But it insists democratic principles of fair representation should be the guiding criteria.
“We were elected to voice our people’s concerns and that’s what I am doing. Our people are saying they want to be fairly represented in the coalition government. Otherwise we support the peace efforts and CPG will join hands with all voices of reason and goodwill to preach peace across the country”.
From Meru, nine MPs signed a memorandum to President Kibaki demanding more Cabinet and senior Civil Service appointments on account of the fact outside central Kenya, the region gave Kibaki 520,000 votes and nine MPs, the third highest pro-Kibaki voter block after Rift Valley that gave him 618,911 out of the 4.5 million cast for him.
The memorandum, dated January 29, and signed by all the Meru MPs specifically demands two more Cabinet appointments and four assistant ministerial slots. It was signed by Energy minister Mr Kiraitu Murungi, Mr Peter Munya (Tigania East), Dr Kilemi Mwiria (Tigania West), Mr Ntoitha M’Mithiaru (Igembe North), Mr Mithika Lintuli (Igembe South), Mr Silas Muriuki (North Imenti), Mr Gitobu Imanyara (Central Imenti, Mr Mburi Muthengi (Tharaka) and Mr Kareke Mbiuki (Nithi)
Elsewhere, a silent war is going on between Narc-Kenya and Kanu within the PNU alliance over the position of deputy Prime Minister.
Both parties are fighting hard against time, as the process of entrenching the position of Prime Minister in the Constitution is being fast-tracked. This is after the gazetting of the Constitution of Kenya Amendment Bill 2008, on Friday.
Insiders say there are moves within the two parties to cut one another down using party strength, regional, tribal and minority cards. The Vice- Presidency’s position has already gone to ODM-Kenya leader, Mr Kalonzo Musyoka.
Kanu, which is a key partner in the coalition wants chairman, Mr Uhuru Kenyatta, to get the post, while Narc-Kenya, which claims to be a senior partner in PNU is proposing Constitutional Affairs minister, Ms Martha Karua.
Others in PNU list are Internal Security minister, Prof George Saitoti, Garsen MP, Mr Danson Mungatana and Kiraitu, who is also the Energy minister.
While Narc-Kenya claims it deserves the post because it is a senior partner in the PNU alliance. Kanu makes the same claim. Kanu disputes claims by Narc-Kenya that of the 43 PNU MPs, it has 29, making it the senior partner.
A Kanu insider says Narc-Kenya has only three MPs, while Kanu has 21, a few having been elected on PNU ticket.
If Kanu argue its case of superiority in numbers compared to Narc-Kenya, it feels it could get the deputy PM’s post, which would go to Uhuru.
And within PNU, there is said to be a struggle between the Karua and Saitoti camps to get the seat if the party’s argument that it is a senior partner in PNU holds water.
Some in Narc-Kenya who support Karua are said to be pushing for ODM to choose Pentagon member Mr William Ruto, which would shut out Saitoti, where regional considerations are concerned. Both Ruto and Saitoti are from the Rift Valley Province. This would give Karua a chance.
But while the regional heavyweights are trying to outdo one another to get the post, some Muslim MPs met recently in a Nairobi hotel to try to create an alternative situation.
This would be in the case where ODM settles for Mr Musalia Mudavadi.
The Muslim MPs would play the “minority card” if the fight for the post with PNU is concentrated within Central Province, pitting Uhuru, Karua and Saitoti.
The alternative, the Kanu insiders say, would be Special Programmes Minister, Ms Naomi Shaaban.
She has the advantage of belonging to “minority” Muslim group, minority Taita tribe, and being a woman, where gender balancing is concerned.
But while the position for the deputy PM’s post continues, some North Eastern MPs are hoping to benefit in the distribution of Cabinet positions.
Ijara MP, Mr Yusuf Haji is the Defence minister, but area MPs are pushing for some MPs from North Eastern headquarters, Garissa, to be in the Cabinet.
Those in Kanu argue that because ODM has a Deputy Speaker from the area, they need to balance it with a ministerial position, especially from someone belonging to a large clan.
Family of former Chief of General Staff, Mr Mahmoud Mohammed, have been holding sway in North Eastern politics and it is said to be pushing for someone like Fafi MP, Mr Adan Sugow, who is considered a “young Turk”.
Sugow’s position covers Garissa, which would include Fafi and Lagdera as the only PNU/Kanu point man.
PNU MPs in Narc-Kenya and Kanu are said to be positioning themselves for the 2012 General Election as President Kibaki is serving his final term.