News 2008


MPs skip debate on Kibaki speech

Daily Nation


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 two deputies.

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 mayhem.

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.

Community leaders

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 President.

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 said.

“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 said.

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,” he said.

National unity

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 post-election violence.

“Kenyans are keenly watching. They are keen to see an end to partisan bickering. They want pragmatic solutions, not ideological posturing.

“They want their leaders to place the country above party and individual interests,” he said.