Bills to legalise coalition out
Story by EMMAN OMARI
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
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.
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
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
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.