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Revealed: Untold secrets of Kibaki, Raila talks

Published on April 16, 2008, 12:00 am

By Ayub Savula, David Ohito And Patrick Wachira

President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga demoted two ministers and sidestepped 10 MPs originally slotted for Cabinet appointments in the deal struck at the Sagana State Lodge, The Standard can now disclose.

The coalition line up unveiled last Sunday was the result of intensive consultation between the two leaders. Details have emerged of the meeting that was characterised by tense moments, horse-trading and last-minute ‘sacrifices’ by Kibaki and Raila.

So intense were the discussions that at some point, Raila would leave his seat, tired of sitting, to perch on the armrest as the two discussed the proposed list of ministers.

The talks began shortly after 11am when Raila joined President Kibaki at the State Lodge and they only took a short break for lunch before continuing with the consultations, our source said.

This went on until after 6pm.

Only presidential guards and aides waited from the fringes of the meeting. The selection was a tough game, where President Kibaki or Raila would pick a name and the two would figure out the implications and suitability of the person.

They then chose or dropped names as they tinkered with the complex national mosaic.

The Standard learnt how the fate of Dr Wilfred Machage was sealed during the deal at Sagana — he is from Nyanza, an ODM stronghold, and he became a casualty so as to accommodate more party MPs.

Agreements and sacrifices were made to balance the Cabinet on regional and gender basis, although loyalty was preferred to ability.Those dropped

The MPs originally slated to join the Cabinet on the ODM list, but later missed out were Mr Chris Okemo, Mr Calistus Mwatela, Ms Lornah Laboso, Mr George Khaniri, Mr Omingo Magara, Mr Alfred Sambu, Mr Aden Duale and Mr Orwa Ojode.

However, Khaniri, Ojode, Laboso, Duale, Magara and Mwatela were appointed assistant ministers.

Sources said Okemo was too senior to be named an assistant minister, a position he would most likely have turned down having served in the prime dockets of Finance and Energy in the Moi regime.

In Coast Province, Mwatela was dropped from the ODM list since Kibaki retained Special Programmes minister, Dr Naomi Shaban.

Raila instead seconded Mwatela to the list of assistant ministers. In the South Coast, Kibaki retained Transport minister, Mr Ali Mwakwere, as a reward for what analysts said was loyalty.

But the President concurred with Raila to appoint a minister from the North Coast, Mr Jeffer Amason Kingi of ODM, who assumed the East Africa Community docket, taking over from Machage.

In the same province, ODM Pentagon member, Mr Najib Balala, was automatically appointed Tourism minister. All Pentagon members were named to the Cabinet to fulfill a pre-election agreement.Rift Valley

In Rift Valley, it was difficult for the two principals to make a quick decision. There was pressure to have Mr William Ruto excluded, but ODM threatened to pull out of the deal should that be the case.

“We spent a lot of time bargaining over the Rift Valley appointments. Again, we made hard choices that would please all,” said Raila.

Laboso, the Sotik MP, was to be made a full Cabinet minister, but Roads minister, Mr Kipkalya Kones, the Bomet MP, is her immediate neighbour, and so she missed out despite gender balance concerns.

However, the Kipsgis, the biggest voting bloc in the Rift Valley, was rewarded with two Assistant ministers — Laboso and Mr Charles Keter.

Laboso’s Cabinet slot was, therefore, taken by Prof Hellen Sambili (UDM) of Mogotio to cover the gender balance in the Rift Valley.

Since President Kibaki had appointed five others MPs on the PNU side to the Cabinet, he had to sacrifice Kamama (Baringo East) to accommodate more ODM ministers.

Rift Valley PNU ministers include Prof George Saitoti (Internal Security and Provincial Administration), Mr John Munyes (Labour), Dr Noah Wekesa (Forest and Wildlife) and Mr Samuel Poghisio (Information and Communication).

The Nandi got the lion’s share following the appointment of Tinderet MP, Mr Henry Kosgey, as Minister for Industrialisation on the grounds that he was the ODM chairman.

In the same district, Aldai MP, Dr Sally Kosgei, was appointed Higher Education, Science and Technology minister on the basis of experience as Head of the Civil Service and a diplomat, as well as gender balance.

Her contribution in the National Dialogue and Reconciliation, popularly known as mediation talks, also came in handy.

ODM also proposed Narok North MP, Mr William ole Ntimama, one of the longest-serving MPs. He was appointed Minister for National Heritage and Culture. He takes care of the wider Maasai vote.

Mr Joseph Nkaissery was named Defence Assistant minister, while Mr Simeon Lesirma, the Samburu West MP, was named Internal Security assistant minister.

Ruto got the prime docket of Agriculture, which has 22 parastatals.Tricky balancing

Raila confirmed to The Standard that the tough decisions were made in view of the fact that PNU had already 17 serving ministers and only wanted to accommodate ODM for regional balance.

Raila said those appointed assistant ministers were capable of serving as ministers and urged them to be dedicated to their duties.

“No one got the better of the other,” Raila said and asked Kenyans to support the Cabinet.

In Nairobi, with just eight constituencies, three MPs, including Raila, are in the Cabinet. The others are assistant ministers, but two constituencies, Kamukunji and Embakasi, have no MPs as they await by-elections.

ODM and PNU, however, picked a minister each from the province. PNU picked Public Health minister, Ms Beth Mugo, on gender basis, while ODM settled on Mr Fred Gumo as the Minister for Regional Development.

Evangelist-cum-politician, Ms Magaret Wanjiru, was appointed Housing Assistant minister.

In Eastern Province, PNU had already accommodated Vice-President, Mr Kalonzo Musyoka, of ODM-Kenya, and added Mr Mutula Kilonzo as Minister for Nairobi Metropolitan Development.

Nithi MP, Mr Kareke Mbiuki, of Kanu was named Assistant minister for Agriculture.

ODM picked Kitui Central MP, Mrs Charity Ngilu of Narc, to the Cabinet and was appointed Water and Irrigation minister.

Mr Kiraitu Murungi retained his powerful Energy docket.

Central Province, PNU’s stronghold and President Kibaki’s backyard, got six Cabinet ministers: Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Trade, Mr Uhuru Kenyatta, Justice, National Cohesion and Constitutional Affairs minister, Ms Martha Karua, Mr John Michuki who was moved from the Roads and Public works docket to Environment and Minerals.

Others are Ms Esther Murugi of Nyeri Town who was named Minister for Gender and Children Affairs.

In Nyanza, ODM got the leeway and appointed Mr James Orengo (Lands and Settlement), Mr Dalmas Otieno (Public Service), Mr Otieno Kajwang’ (Immigration and Registration), Prof Anyang’ Nyong’o (Medical Services) and Mr Chris Obure (Public Works).

Magara missed the Cabinet because PNU had already appointed Prof Sam Ongeri, the Education minister, from the Kisii region.

In Western Province, Okemo missed the Cabinet on grounds that the Attorney-General, Mr Amos Wako, comes from the same constituency — Nambale.

ODM rewarded Funyula MP, Dr Paul Otuoma, with the Fisheries docket.

Hamisi MP, Mr George Khaniri, missed a Cabinet slot because the Speaker of the National Assembly, Mr Kenneth Marende, and the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Local Government, Mr Musalia Mudavadi, are from the same region.

Webuye MP, Mr Alfred Sambu, who beat Ford-Kenya chairman, Mr Musikari Kombo, in the polls missed the Cabinet because PNU had already appointed Foreign Affairs minister, Mr Moses Wetangula, from Bungoma.

In North Eastern Province, ODM found if difficult to allocate more Cabinet slots to neighbours of Deputy Speaker Mr Farah Maalim.

Mr Ibrahim Elmi (Wajir East) was appointed Minister for Development of Northern Kenya and other Arid Lands.

Other MPs from the same region were appointed assistant ministers because PNU had already picked Defence minister, Mr Yusuf Haji from Ijara.


About SG

Secretary general of Chama Cha Mwananchi. This blog www.chamachamwananchi.wordpress.com, is based in Sweden.


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