News 2008


Smile, it's a new Kenya

Daily Nation


Publication Date: 3/5/2008

President Kibaki and ODM leader Raila Odinga looked relaxed and smiled freely as they met Tuesday for the first time without mediators to prepare the ground for their coalition Government.

The venue of the talks was the President’s office at Harambee House, Nairobi, and unlike meetings held there in recent weeks, the atmosphere was convivial and minus the tension that had engulfed the two leaders and their backers during the mediation talks.

It was quite evident that the two had put behind them the acrimony of the past two months following a dispute over Presidential election results.

The two agreed that a six-member team be formed to spearhead the transition to a coalition government to be formed by PNU, its coalition partners and ODM.

At the same time, President Kibaki and Mr Odinga agreed to work together towards uniting all Kenyans and accelerating the healing process by holding meetings with different communities to ensure that wananchi live together peacefully.

The President and the ODM leader also discussed how their two parties will relate and work together in the coalition Government.

During the meeting, the two leaders agreed to ensure that the agreement they signed last week is implemented fully for the benefit of all Kenyans.

The Transition Committee to be constituted immediately has been tasked to work out how the President and the PM will work in running the government. It will have three members from each side.

Mr Odinga emerged from the two-hour closed door meeting at Harambee House and told journalists that they had agreed on a wide range of issues, top among them the formation of the six-member team to prepare agenda and joint programmes for implementation.

“The team will begin working immediately,” Mr Odinga, who is set to be Kenya’s second Prime Minister after Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, said.

Mr Odinga did not, however, name the members of the team.

Details of the meeting by the two leaders were scant, but sources close to them indicated that they touched on almost everything that the next government will be addressing.

Another committee will be tasked to harmonise Vision 2030 and PNU and ODM manifestos so that the incoming government works towards that goal.

Resettling of internally displaced people also featured where the leaders agreed that they should be moved carefully.

Increase energy

President Kibaki and Mr Odinga are said to have discussed building of infrastructure in the country and programmes that will increase energy generation to boost the economy.

President Kibaki was the first to arrive at the Harambee House venue at 10.10 am.

Then Mr Odinga, who only days ago saw his meetings being disrupted by police, arrived in style with his escort motorcade siren on and a high VIP security detail in hot pursuit.

Mr Odinga said his meeting with President Kibaki-five days after the signing of a historic agreement to end political crisis in the country, was meant to make the coalition work.

Under the coalition, a prime minister and two deputies positions are to be created.

Mr Odinga is expected to occupy the PM slot, his party produce one deputy and the PNU coalition the other.

ODM and PNU are also expected to share Cabinet positions, Permanent secretaries, ambassadors and parastatal chiefs on a 50-50 basis.

Tuesday, Mr Odinga said he had agreed with President Kibaki on how the coalition government is going to work.

But he said the sharing of the positions will be done after two crucial Bills to transform the agreement into law are passed in Parliament.

A Constitutional Amendment Bill and an Ordinary Bill are to be published any time from today in readiness of the official State Opening of Parliament tomorrow.

The Constitutional amendment is define the new position of PM and two deputies and also anchor in it the National Accord and Reconciliation Act which specifies details of the coalition.

Mr Odinga who was accompanied by Mvita MP Najib Balala said ODM is to hold a parliamentary group meeting today where it will agree to support the Bills in Parliament.

ODM and PNU are further slated to hold a joint parliamentary group meeting tomorrow morning before the opening of Parliament to agree on how to work together, Mr Odinga said.

The government coalition which comprises of PNU and ODM-K had on Monday held a PG meeting and resolved to support the Bills.

Mr Odinga said he also discussed with President Kibaki the relationship between PNU and ODM and that they both want the agreement reached last week to succeed.

Mr Odinga gave an example of Germany as where a grand coalition has worked well.

He denied that the coalition between PNU and ODM will kill the opposition saying there were still some small parties in Parliament to keep the government on its toes.

Backbenchers in Parliament, he added, will further ensure there were no executive excesses.

He said although PNU and ODM had thrown vitriol to each other and fought each other before, he was certain they will bury their differences and work as one.

“There’s light at the end of the tunnel,” he said.

The coalition between the two major parties in Parliament, he said, will unite Kenyans and heal the wounds inflicted in last two months when the country was rocked by violence following the disputed 2007 presidential election results.

“We want Kenyans to live like brothers and sisters,” he said.

Calling for inter-ethnic harmony, Mr Odinga said, meetings will be held soon by leaders from PNU and ODM to promote the virtue.

The political leaders, he said, will meet various community leaders and find ways that they can co-exist well.

President Kibaki who left at 2.30 pm, unlike Mr Odinga, did not brief journalists.

The President also held meetings with top security chiefs including Chief of General Staff Jeremiah Kianga and Police Commissioner Hussein Ali.

The Head of State further held talks with Cabinet ministers George Saitoti, Head of Civil Service Francis Muthaura, Science and Technology minister Noah Wekesa and Local Government Minister Uhuru Kenyatta.

Former Environment Minister David Mwiraria was also at Harambee House to see the President.

The Office of the President has been busier than usual in the past two months. It has been home to shuttle diplomacy, hosting negotiations between Mr Odinga and President Kibaki.

The talks were spearheaded by former African Union Chairman President John Kufuor of Ghana, his successor at AU President Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania and former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.

In his entire First Term as President, Mr Kibaki preferred to meet dignitaries and conduct business in State House, Nairobi.

Attorney General Amos Wako, assisted by lawyers James Orengo and Mutula Kilonzo are expected to finalise the two Bills to firm up the agreement.