How far will ODM-PNU go?
Published on April 26, 2008, 12:00 am
By Steve Mkawale and Vitalis Kimutai
Day two of peace rallies by President Kibaki, Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka ended again with protocol wars.
The agenda was peace, reconciliation and resettlement, but it ended up with a script straight from the Tower of Babel.
It also put strain on the Grand Coalition as the Electoral Commission of Kenyaannounced June 11, as the date for five parliamentary by-elections and 52 civic wards. With the parties’ strength in Parliament separated by less than five seats, the leaders will be on edge either to maintain the lead or outflank the other.
Wherever a minister from Kibaki’s side spoke, his opening line was — President, Vice-President and the Prime Minister. When those Raila fronted for the Cabinet took the podium, they gave the PM the second mention after the President.
With the confusion, and given the palpable fissure between Orange Democratic Movement and Party of National Unity, as well as the pending business, the Six-Million Dollar question popped up: How far will the two parties and their leaders go?
For the second day, and in heart of Rift Valley, scarred by violence and home to the displaced, what started in Eldoret on Thursday played itself out during the entire tour.
|President Kibaki, Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka are joined by Rift Valley leaders Samuel Poghisio, Kipkalya Kones, William Ruto and George Saitoti for a public meeting at Kipkelion township on Friday.
Internal Security Minister, in the Party of National Unity’s fashion of the pecking order, invited Raila to speak, so that Kalonzo would take over and invite the President.
Raila, whose interpretation of the National Accord has it that he shares ‘real’ executive power with the President, and so is senior to Kalonzo, took the microphone to ask Kalonzo to speak then he would return. Kalonzo did so but with the rider that he is not bothered by ‘protocol issues’ because there was a more business – the resettling of the displaced.
But in Chebilat, and before President Kibaki, who appears not to have resolved the protocol wars after Eldoret, Raila went a step further. He ended his speech but did not even invite Kalonzo.
That was when Kalonzo went to the microphone ‘uninvited’, and told the crowd Raila, too, bore the image of traitor he was being accused of.
“I know many felt I betrayed them but we all did – Raila and I. Perhaps it is only President Kibaki who did not do so,” said the VP.
Raila in the end invited the President and made it known to the crowd he was the second in command after President Kibaki, leaving Kalonzo to do the explaining.
In Chebilat market in Sotik, and Kipkelion, where the leaders arrived in four choppers, Kibaki watched from his seat as the drama was replayed to the amusement and surprise of the people waiting for security reassurance.
The President did not, yet again, appear to want to step in between Raila and Kalonzo.
Present were seven members of the Grand Coalition Cabinet that despite its discordant voices has promised the country a new constitution in a year. They were Mr William Ruto (Agriculture), Mr Kipkalya Kones (Roads), Dr Noami Shaban, Prof Sam Ongeri, Mr Samuel Pogishio (Information), Mr Dalmas Otieno (Public Service), and Prof Saitoti (Internal Security), and Sports Minister Prof Hellen Sambili.
The other potentially explosive matters the Grand Coalition Cabinet has to handle, albeit with their different approaches, include justice and restitution for the victims of post-election violence.
In Eldoret, Cherangany, Chebilat and Kipkelion the President did not respond to leaders’ call for amnesty for those arrested, and the reinstatement of chiefs sacked for failing to stop the violence.
PNU wants the displaced resettled immediately. ODM leaders argue they still need time to talk to their people to prepare the ground.
The disagreements on the interpretation of the National Accord signed by Raila and Kibaki before the international mediators could be the aftertaste of the ‘portfolio balance’ row in the sharing out of ministries between PNU and ODM.
It also could also be the aftershock of the Public Service reshuffle, which again, contrary to ODM’s expectation, did not scratch beneath the surface.
Raila used the tour to assure the Kipsigis he had not left them out of the sharing of positions.
“You are still represented in the Government. Any minister appointed serves the country and not a community,” he said.
The PM said they were still other positions to be filled and urged the community to be patient.
The other MPs in the tour were Mr Kiprono Langat, Mr Charles Keter, Mr Timothy Lesirma, Mr Orwa Ojode and Mr Wilfred Machage and Mr William Cheptumo