News 2008


Bills to legalise coalition out

Saturday Nation


08. March 2008

Bills to legitimise ODM leader Raila Odinga’s position of Prime Minister have been published to pave way for the formation of a new government.

Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Martha Karua issued the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill, which seeks to establish the position of PM and two deputies.

And the Attorney General Amos Wako simultaneously issued the National Accord and Reconciliation Bill that spells out the coalition arrangement between President Kibaki’s PNU coalition and Mr Odinga’s ODM.

The Bill also seeks to give the premier “authority to co-ordinate and supervise the execution of the functions and affairs of the government, including those of ministries”. He will also assign the two deputies and undertake any other assignment given to him by the President or under any written law.

The two Bills rolled out of the Government Printer on Thursday afternoon just as President Kibaki was delivering a speech in Parliament during the State Opening occasion in which he asked MPs to give them “the highest priority”.

They are due to be introduced in Parliament next week and there is a likelihood that they could be passed in a single day.

The Bills emanate from the mediation agreement signed last week between Mr Kibaki and Mr Odinga on a power-sharing pact brokered by former UN secretary general Kofi Annan.

Mr Annan steered the National Dialogue and Reconciliation Committee under the auspices of a Panel of Eminent African Persons, which included former Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa and former South African First Lady Graca Machel.

Election results

The committee was formed following post-election violence triggered by the disputed presidential election results.

“The political crisis brought to the surface deep-seated and long-standing divisions within the Kenyan society,” it is stated in the Memorandum of Objects.

The violence saw more than 1,000 people dying and 300,000 others displaced from their homes.

Details of the Constitutional Amendment Bill seek to amend two sections and insert a new clause that will legalise the PM and two deputies.

To avoid a possible legal battle in courts, a provision is being made under section 3, which nullifies any law that contradicts the Constitution to protect any other Act made by Parliament.

And section 17 of the Constitution is to be amended to insert the PM and deputies as part of the Cabinet.

A new section 15A is to be inserted to write into the Constitution the positions of PM and two deputies.

The clause also makes the Act spell out the coalition arrangement part of the Constitution.

The 9-clause Bill on the Accord establishes the positions of PM and two deputies who must be elected MPs just as the condition spelt out in law for a vice-president.

But the PM must come from a party with majority MPs in the House, or a coalition of political parties if the biggest one does not command a majority.

The ODM and its Narc partner of Mrs Charity Ngilu have 105 MPs out of the 222, including those nominated, and therefore its leader will automatically qualify to become the PM.

The PNU and its coalition partners ODM-K, Kanu and Narc-K have 83 MPs, including their respective nominees.

The new law also seeks to share the posts of two deputy PMs by both sides, where the party leaders will provide the name of an elected MP to be appointed to the position.

To be appointed

Every party leader other than President Kibaki who will have his discretion on who to pick from his Government coalition will provide names of people to be appointed ministers and assistant ministers. And they cannot be sacked unless with prior approval of their party leaders.

And Clause 4 (3) states: “The composition of the coalition government shall at all times reflect the relative parliamentary strength of the respective parties and shall at all times take into account the principle of portfolio balance.”

Unless the coalition is dissolved, only Parliament may remove the PM or any of the deputies by passing a vote of no confidence with simple majority.

The coalition will end with the dissolution of the current Parliament and even the Act will cease to exist.

Alternatively, the coalition parties could agree mutually to end it or if one of the partners pulls out.

The Principles of Partnership of the Coalition Government signed by Mr Kibaki and Mr Odinga will form part of the new law.

It was witnessed by Mr Annan and African Union Chairman President Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania.