Saturday, April 25, 2009



President says issue of Leader of Government Business closed by writing a "final" letter to the Speaker of the parliament . ODM insists that "it will do everything" to take parliament as it has majority members of parliament, even if going back to elections. There is currently no electoral board to oversee any elections....

Coalition partners ODM and PNU remained hopelessly divided on Saturday over the raging dispute over the Leader of Government Business that has paralysed Parliament. The political temperature is likely to rise on Sunday when PNU leaders address a press conference at Serena Hotel in Nairobi to respond to Prime Minister Raila Odinga. On Saturday, it emerged that the standoff in the House last week was a sign of a deeper struggle over control of government affairs.

On the one hand, the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) has identified Parliament as the perfect launch pad for its new strategy to force President Kibaki and his Party of National Unity (PNU) to consult the Prime Minister as an equal partner in the Grand Coalition government. On the other PNU views the move as targeted at grabbing presidential powers, a form of a “civilian coup” against the President.

At the heart of the dispute is the position of Leader of Government Business in Parliament, which is being claimed by Mr Odinga and Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka. The President wrote to the House Speaker Kenneth Marende endorsing Mr Musyoka for the position, but Mr Odinga sent another letter stating that as supervisor of government affairs, he was the rightful holder of the post.

The standoff paralysed parliamentary business for two days this week as MPs from both sides argued on who between the President and PM should appoint the Leader of Government Business.

On Thursday, Mr Marende announced that he would rule on the issue on Tuesday, if the two principals would not have arrived at an amicable solution.


“The House Business Committee sets the agenda for the House. Whoever sets the agenda controls what comes to the floor of the House,” Mr Kaparo said. “But this is a strange phenomenon. Ordinarily there is a government and an opposition. In this particular case it’s a government fighting itself. It cannot be resolved through legalities, it has to be solved politically.”


“Traditionally, the President’s principal assistant (the vice-president) has been taking that role. That means that Mr Musyoka was rightly appointed leader of government business in Parliament by President Kibaki. His duties do not go beyond the House,” said Mr Kilonzo.

“Raila is actually fighting Kibaki for power. Kalonzo is a nominee of the President. However, think of the football analogies the PM loves to use all the time... about overcoming the defences around the goalkeeper, then making the shot into goal. On this (parliamentary) appointment we have drawn a red line,” one of the participants told the Sunday Nation but adamantly refused to discuss the actual deliberations.

“Why did he not address the House during the State opening? The Head of State is head of government. The leader of government business is basically the President’s deputy. If the PM wants to lower himself to take that position, then he should not insist on equal power-sharing,” said Mr Nyamweya.

“Look, ODM already has the Speaker’s position and the deputy’s. The push for the Leader of Government Business is something the President cannot ignore. Let nobody forget that the President’s office is executive. After all, he dissolves and prorogues the House,” said the official, who like the others did not want to be identified on this sensitive matter.

And last evening State House issued a Press statement saying that the President was not ready to negotiate over the matter. “Having executed (his) Constitutional responsibility, His Excellency the President considered the matter closed and therefore deemed further consultations on the matter as unnecessary,” the PPS statement read.

“The truth of the matter, even in the last session, it was the President who appointed the Leader of Government Business who became the chair of the HBC. It is his constitutional right to do so,” Mr Kenyatta said. The minister said that a critical look at the National Accord shows that Mr Odinga signed for ODM while the President signed for Government/PNU, Kenyatta added.

Lastly PNU’s Mutula Kilonzo said: “We will abide by the ruling from the Speaker which I expect will define government as used in the Standing Orders.


The ODM party said that it has staked a claim to the powerful positions in order to take charge of the reform agenda. Assistant Foreign Affairs minister Richard Onyonka said the coalition government is a first in the country and therefore tradition cannot be invoked when dealing with House matters. Kenyans are agitating for more reforms and reforms must be given priorities.

Although Kanu chairman said it was erroneous for ODM to compare Kenya with other countries because the grand coalition government had been formed “in exceptional circumstances in which he says, It is clear who is supposed to be the head of government”. ODM Gem MP Jakoyo Midiwo, one of Mr Odinga’s key lieutenants, said that ODM “will fight to the bitter end” over the dispute.

Meanwhile, key advisors to the coalition principals said the parties would respect the Speaker’s ruling which will set a precedent in the House and shape the future of Kenya’s politics.

“We shall respect the Speaker’s ruling. It is something that must be respected,” said the ODM secretary general, Prof Anyang’ Nyong’o.

PNU says “We will abide by the ruling from the Speakewhich I expect will define government as used in the Standing Orders.