Coalition of Collision
After the signing of the National Accord, the country may have applauded too soon writes PATRICK WACHIRA
The so-called principals of Kenya’s government never miss an opportunity to quarrel, often with the garrulous support of their members and often without principles. The war on corruption must not be personalised and politicised, so intoned Kenya’s President Mwai Kibaki as he opened the Fourth Session of the Tenth Parliament in February. The statement was greeted with foot thumping, indicating the House was happy with what it was hearing.
The applause came again shortly afterwards when the President asked Kenyans to have faith in their institutions and desist from inviting foreigners to solve their problems. Once again Kibaki scored well with the House and on the two occasions it was clear who he was addressing, albeit without saying so.
The President had Prime Minister Raila Odinga in his cross hairs and he appeared determined to press home his advantage; after all stage was his and the Premier was not going to have a chance to respond. The Prime Minister sat quietly, sheepishly in his seat as ministers and MPs exchanged knowing winks and glances.
The President had a week earlier had a public spat with the Prime Minister over the latter’s relentless pursuit of two cabinet colleagues he sought to have punished for alleged corruption in their ministries.
When the PM moved to suspend the two to pave way for investigations, Kibaki put his foot down.
He annulled the suspensions, saying he not been consulted as required by the National Accord of 2008 by which Kenya’s coalition government was set up. When President and PM met, following the latter’s return from an overseas trip, the former flatly refused to discuss the disputes in government.
Kibaki argued that there was no crisis in government to warrant the PM’s invitation to the African Union and former UN Secretary General Annan to help. It was on the same day – in the afternoon – that the President tackled the PM again in Parliament.
The very following day, the PM was in trouble again and, again, in Parliament. This time the President was not involved, but, if his public barracking of the PM is anything to go by, he must have liked what he saw and heard.
Oblivious of the foul mood in the PM’s Orange Democratic Movement, the party high command decided to drop one of the ministers the PM had fingered over corruption from the House Business Committee, the organ that sets the agenda for Parliament.
MPs allied to the minister, Mr William Ruto of Agriculture, rebelled against the high command and staged a walk-out from the House. They were supported in the condemnation of the action against Ruto by MPs allied to Kibaki’s Party of national Unity. Parliament was paralysed.As the bickering moved further and further away from the matter of corruption which the PM appeared to be waging and closer to the problems in the coalition government, it was clear the politics of corruption had been turned against the person of the PM
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