MPs skip debate on Kibaki speech
Story by LUCAS BARASA
07. March 2008
Leaders from the Orange Democratic Movement and the Government
coalition Thursday agreed to suspend debate on the presidential
speech and deal with the Bills aimed to prop up a grand alliance.
Debate on the speech which usually takes seven days will be
concluded after the entrenchment of an agreement reached between
President Kibaki and ODM leader Raila Odinga into the Constitution.
The deal calls for the creation of the post of Prime Minister and
President Kibaki, Mr Odinga and Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka
were united in urging MPs to assist to return the country to
stability and reconcile communities affected by post-election
They were speaking during the first joint parliamentary group
meeting of PNU and ODM members that was held Thursday at Old
Parliament before the State Opening of the House.
During the meeting, the MPs also agreed to work together as a team,
harmonise manifestoes of parties in the grand coalition and visit
all parts of the country preaching peace and reconciliation.
And in a show of solidarity, President Kibaki, Mr Odinga and Mr
Musyoka left the meeting, chatting before the National Anthem was
played by the Kenya Army band.
Sources at the meeting said the MPs interacted freely, chatted and
cracked jokes. “The mood was good,” Keiyo North MP Lucas
Chepkitonyi told the Nation.
Only President Kibaki, Mr Odinga and Mr Musyoka spoke during the
meeting that ended at 11.10 am.
The VP was first to speak, followed by President Kibaki who
invited Mr Odinga.
The ODM leader is set to be Kenya’s second Prime Minister after
Jomo Kenyatta following a peace deal.
Mr Odinga is said to have told the MPs that they should first talk
to various community leaders to enable smooth return of displaced
persons in the areas and encourage locals to co-exist peacefully.
Mr Odinga, who urged the MPs to support the peace deal between him
and President Kibaki, said it was struck quickly after chief
mediator Kofi Annan decided to deal directly with him and the
In a rare gesture, President Kibaki addressed journalists after
the meeting saying: “We are happy to get together. I know we will
go on very well.”
“I know we will succeed in making and building prosperous Kenya,”
added a jovial and relaxed President Kibaki.
Earlier, he described the gathering as an important milestone.
“As representatives of the people, we have gathered here to put
our minds together and agree on the role each one of us should
play to ensure that the violence that engulfed parts of our
country following the 2007 elections does not occur again,” he
“It is in this that the Government coalition and the Orange
Democratic Movement Party agreed, after intense dialogue, to work
together for the good of our country and people,” the President
The agreement he signed with Mr Odinga last week, he noted, was
not only meant to restore normalcy in short term, but also pave
the way for a broad reform agenda that will address problems
facing the country.
He said the grand coalition will push for comprehensive
constitutional, electoral, political and economic reforms that
will lay a firm foundation for peaceful and stable Kenya.
“In our discussions, we have committed ourselves to conclude the
issue of constitutional review within a year. I urge you all to
work together in the spirit of give-and-take to ensure that
comprehensive review is completed within the agreed time-frame,”
The President asked MPs to support the proposed legislative
measures “which will go a long way in ensuring peace and stability
in our country.”
“I also appeal to you all to be guided by a strong sense of
national unity, which must override all partisan considerations.”
The President noted that the launch of the grand coalition was a
clear signal that although loud debates may attract a lot of
attention, “we can achieve a lot together through quiet dialogue.”
“We need to cultivate this spirit of quiet consultation to achieve
the next steps on the agenda.”
He also asked the leaders to assist thousands of people living in
dehumanising conditions in makeshift camps due to the
“Kenyans are keenly watching. They are keen to see an end to
partisan bickering. They want pragmatic solutions, not ideological
“They want their leaders to place the country above party and
individual interests,” he said.