75 MPs sign for Opposition
Published on April 22, 2008, 12:00 am
By Joseph Murimi
Seventy-Five MPs have signed a petition to the Speaker of the National Assembly to recognise them as the Grand Official Opposition.
The MPs, drawn from different parties, said they constituted themselves as the Grand Official Opposition because of the desire by the Kenyan people to have an official opposition in Parliament.
Igembe South MP, Mr Mithika Linturi, who is behind the drive, says 75 MPs have since signed the petition and five more are expected to join them by the end of the week.
He said Kenyans had expressed the need to have an opposition to check on the excesses of the Coalition Government that was sworn-in last week.
Linturi, in the petition, says there is need for an official opposition to check the Executive so that Parliament is not used like a rubber stamp.
He said the 75 MPs were not pushing for the opposition after failing to make it to the Cabinet.
Linturi said MPs would push for the recognition of an opposition using all means.
“Saying we are reacting because of missing out in the Cabinet is not true. These are extraordinary times in our country and there is huge risk of operating without an opposition,’’ Linturi said.
He started the debate in Parliament seeking to have the Grand Official Opposition recognised.
He said no matter how well meaning any Government is, there is need to ensure there are checks and balances and individuals playing the watchdog role.
The MP said the media cannot play the watchdog role alone.
The petition to the Speaker says in part, “… in view of the desire by the Kenyan people to have an Official Opposition in Parliament, the following Honourable Members wish to constitute themselves as the Grand Official Opposition.’’
But the MPs have an uphill task because the Standing Orders do not recognise individuals as the Official Opposition.
The rules only recognise a party that has a minimum of 30 members.
The MPs are pushing for a change of the Standing Orders so that they can be recognised as the Grand Official Opposition, the same way the law was changed to allow for a Coalition Government.
There were murmurs of disapproval after President Kibaki announced the Cabinet.
Those who were left out claimed that they had been short-changed.
Many, including the Prime Minister, Raila Odinga, saw the drive for the formation of an official opposition as a reaction by those left out of the Coalition Cabinet.
He argued that one does not need to be in the opposition to offer constructive criticism of the Government.
The Speaker has already ruled that Parliament would for the time being be without Official Opposition because the one suggested by the MPs is not legally recognised.