Smile, it's a new Kenya
Story by LUCAS BARASA
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
It was quite evident that the two had put behind them the acrimony
of the past two months following a dispute over Presidential
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
Resettling of internally displaced people also featured where the
leaders agreed that they should be moved carefully.
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
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
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
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
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
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