Raila, only a step away from
March 8, 2008
By Abiya Ocholla and David Ohito
The process to making Mr Raila Odinga the Prime Minister was
fast-tracked to the penultimate stage, with the publication of the
Bills to be debated in Parliament.
As the process went on, Raila, who has already started enjoying
the trappings of power that go with the position continued to play
the role on Friday as he toured Kibera.
In Kibera, which was among the worst hit Nairobi estates in the
election violence, Raila preached peace and told displaced persons
to return to their houses.
On Friday, the Government injected more urgency into
constitutionalising the process, with Justice Minister Ms Martha
Karua gazetting the Constitution of Kenya Amendment Bill 2008.
Also gazetted is the National Accord and Reconciliation Bill 2008,
published by Attorney General Mr Amos Wako. The Bills carry the
details of the power-sharing accord.
Unlike other gazettements, the Attorney General’s office issued a
statement to alert the media of the publication and to outline the
contents of the Bills.
It is expected that when the Tenth Parliament resumes on Tuesday
for its first regular sitting, the House could be asked to waive
the tradition of giving priority to debate the presidential speech
and allow for the Bill to sail through the first reading.
Parliament may borrow from the happenings of 1975 when founding
President Jomo Kenyatta changed the Constitution in a day, going
through the three stages. On the third day it was given
The amendment Bill was published on December 9. It was tabled on
December 10. It passed all the three stages of debate that
afternoon. On December 11, it received presidential assent and was
immediately backdated to January 1, 1975.
Ugenya MP, Mr James Orengo, who spoke earlier this week, said that
after the PNU and ODM parliamentary group meetings agreed to fast
track the Bills without subjecting them to the routine debate,
parliamentary formality can be priority and have them passed
within a day.
On Thursday night, when he appeared on KTN’s Newsline, the Prime
Minister designate said the new-look Cabinet, which he is to head
under the new role, will be unveiled after entrenchment into the
statutes of the power-sharing pact.
Raila, in the Newsline interview, said the House Business
Committee would be constituted on Tuesday next week, which will
allocate time for the Bills to be debated.
The first Bill, the AG’s office said, "Seeks to facilitate and
entrench into the Constitution the enactment of the National
Accord and Reconciliation Bill 2008, pursuant to the agreement on
the principles of partnership of the coalition government signed
on February 28."
The National Accord and Reconciliation Bill is to give effect to
among other things, the establishment of the Office of the Prime
Minister and two deputies.
Two other Bills, which are slated for publication, were not ready
as they are still subject of negotiations by the mediation teams,
sitting at the Serena Hotel.
The two are the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission Bill
and The Ethnic Relations Commission of Kenya Bill.
Since the signing of the deal between Raila and President Kibaki
on February 28, the Government has fast-tracked the symbolic
entrenchment into office of the holder as the statutory process is
One of Raila’s would-be ODM Ministers Mr Najib Balala was included
in a government delegation that also had Vice-President Mr Kalonzo
Musyoka, to represent the Government in the Berlin Tourism Fair in
In Parliament on Thursday, Raila and Vice-President Musyoka
entered together just before President Kibaki, illustrating their
order of seniority.
Raila on Friday embarked on what would be the first peace mission
representing the Government as he toured Lang’ata Constituency and
told the displaced to return to their houses.
In a motorcade secured by State agents and a public address system
the Ministry of Information supplied, he held three rallies in the
Raila, accompanied by veteran politician Mr Martin Shikuku, former
Makadara MP Mr Reuben Ndolo and his son Fidel, preached peaceful
and national reconciliation.
"We want to begin working for the nation and its citizens. The era
of mass action and violence is over and all displaced person can
now return home," Raila said, after Kibera DO Mr Kepher Maruge,
"We sat with President Kibaki and agreed to unite Kenyans and hold
peace rallies countrywide to heal the country," he said.
"We have agreed to work with our brothers and sisters in PNU. We
must forget the differences caused by the election and chart new
beginning for Kenya," the PM-designate said.
"We signed the peace and reconciliation pact and it is just a
matter of time before Parliament ratifies a new grand coalition,"
"We do not want to see a Kenyan arming himself and butchering
another Kenyan as we saw during the violence," Raila told his
constituents. He thanked them for the massive votes he amassed
from the slums.
In the Newsline interview, Raila said the coalition partners were
yet to agree on the number of ministers as anxiety rose among
Kenyans over an expected bloated list.
He said the details of the slots to be held by each party had not
been worked out.
"We shall be discussing in due course the details. Let me not jump
the gun," he said as he announced that a National Conference on
Ethnicity would be held soon.
The Lang’ata MP said a 10-member committee from PNU and ODM had
been formed to not only establish a compromise manifesto for
Government, but also the number of ministries.
"Once the necessary Bills affirming the power-sharing deal have
been passed, the first task will be to form the Government," Raila
said without giving a time frame.
He termed the anxiety about a bloated Cabinet as jumping the gun.
"I do not want a situation where Kenyans will accuse us of
extravagance. The number of ministries will have to be discussed.
We must reduce expenditure on what is luxury," he said.
The ODM leader also said among the issues yet to be resolved is
the Leader of Government Business in the House.
"The issue of the person to be Leader of Government Business has
not been resolved. We shall be discussing it in due course," he
He said the coalition partners would also share out slots for
Permanent Secretaries and parastatals.
"When you talk about Government, it is the minister, PS and heads
of parastatals and authorities," he explained.
Raila said until the Constitution is reviewed, the President would
remain the Head of State and Head of Government even though the PM
will have specific functions assigned to him.
"What we have is like the French model of cohabitation where the
President chairs the Cabinet, but the PM ensures the decisions are
implemented," he said.
He was, however, optimistic that the new constitution will come up
with new governance structures that serve the national good.