Monday, February 22, 2010
“Mimi niko na timu yangu na Kibaki ana yake. Pande hii kama moja namna hii...namna hii ...tunamwambia kaa kando (I have my team and Kibaki has his. If there is one on this side whose conduct is questionable, we will tell him to step aside),” he said at a rally in Nairobi's Kibera estate.
The PM’s suspension of Agriculture minister William Ruto and Education minister Sam Ongeri on Sunday last week was overturned by the President sparking a stand-off in the grand coalition. Mr Ruto is a deputy party leader in ODM while Prof Ongeri’s party, Kanu, is allied to PNU.
While overturning Mr Odinga’s order, President Kibaki said the PM had no powers to discipline Cabinet ministers. The show of power by the President triggered a cold war in the coalition with ODM declaring a crisis in government. Mr Odinga then invited the African Union and chief mediator Kofi Annan to intervene and resolve the crisis. His allies said they would boycott Cabinet meetings until the crisis was resolved.
On Sunday, Mr Odinga disagreed with the President about the state of affairs in the coalition and insisted there was a crisis which would be resolved when the two meet later this week. No clear date for the meeting has been set. “I talked with Kibaki and agreed we will sit, talk and solve the dispute. The fire is high and we want to contain it otherwise it will worsen. We want cordial and respectful talks. We want respect from both sides,” he said.
“Somebody asked me if there’s a problem and I said yes there is. But a problem always has a solution. There’s a fire and if we don’t stop it will burn”.
However, Mr Ruto played down the PM’s move to invite Mr Annan to help resolve the stalemate. “I do not think that declarations of disputes will in any way help build a country that we will all be proud of ... We should focus on issues and deal with them with the merit they deserve,” he said at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport where he arrived shortly after the PM.
Mr Odinga, who has been away on official duty for a week, landed at JKIA at 6.25am and went into a meeting with a few of his allies, including Cabinet ministers James Orengo and Anyang Nyong’o, at Treasury Buildings starting from 11am. The meeting ended at 1pm.
Earlier, he had spoken on phone with Industrialisation minister Henry Kosgey, also the ODM chairman and Regional Development Authority minister Fred Gumo who is abroad. Sources said the two-hour meeting explored the options available to the PM.
At the Kibera rally, Mr Orengo, Prof Nyong’o, Mr Jakoyo Midiwo and Nominated MP Musa Sirma all said Kenya must embrace good governance to develop. Mr Odinga said the coalition government was formed by two equal partners to help bring reforms and stressed that “what we want is respect in this country.” He added that Kenya required peace to bring about reforms. “The economy will not grow if we fight.”
The PM said ODM would state what it wants during the meeting with President Kibaki and that PNU would also be expected to say what it wants. He also urged ODM leaders to remain calm and await the outcome of his talks with the President. He said the country was entering a critical stage in the constitution-making process and urged Kenyans to be ready to vote.
And Mr Orengo said if corruption was to end “we must start with the big fish.” “A policeman once told me there’s no need to stop them from taking bribes while we are eating maize and pushing it down the throat with oil,” Mr Orengo said.
Mr Midiwo called for discipline in ODM saying most of the problems in the country were caused by some individual MPs in the party. The chief whip took issue with Mr Ruto for daring Mr Odinga to face him “if he was man enough” yet the PM was the appointing authority for ODM ministers.
He said the price of maize flour had shot from Sh40 for a 2kg packet to more than Sh100 since Mr Ruto took over as the Agriculture minister. Prof Nyong’o said Kenyans were concerned about maize and education scandals and that ODM as a party caters for the interests of all Kenyans without discrimination. He also called for “respect” from both sides of the coalition adding that leaders should stop abusing each other.
Posted by ME at 1:07 AM