Saturday, March 31, 2012

Sacking opens latest battlefront for Raila


Posted  Saturday, March 31  2012 at  22:30
The Monday reshuffle that saw Mvita MP Najib Balala dropped from the Cabinet has opened another battlefront against Prime Minister Raila Odinga who has been fighting political fires from numerous directions.

Mr Odinga now faces an enraged Muslim community, intense propaganda from Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta and Eldoret North MP William Ruto who accuse him of engineering their prosecution at the International Criminal Court — a tag he has been unable to fight — and a resurgent deputy Musalia Mudavadi, who has mounted an all-out campaign to deny him the ODM presidential ticket.
Some Muslim leaders have interpreted Mr Balala’s sacking as a back-peddling on the controversial Memorandum of Understanding signed between Mr Odinga and Muslim leaders before the 2007 General Election in which the PM reportedly committed to ensure that Muslims constitute 20 per cent of public appointments.
“The sacking of Mr Balala from the Cabinet is a breach of the agreement signed between the National Muslim Leaders Forum and Mr Odinga to safeguard the interests of the Muslim community,” said Namlef organising secretary Sheikh Mohammed Khalifa.
Other complaints came from the Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya and the Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims.
Condemn him
It is also interesting to note that nominated MP Sheikh Ahmed Dor, who has hitherto been close to the PM, came out strongly to condemn him over Mr Balala’s sacking.
Mr Balala joins a long list of Mr Odinga’s allies-turned-foes whom he has kicked out of the coalition since 2008. (READ: Raila: Why I sacked Balala from Cabinet)
They include Mr Ruto, Mogotio MP Prof Hellen Sambili, as well as former assistant ministers Charles Keter, Jackson Kiptanui, Mohammed Mohamud and Aden Duale.
Mr Ruto has since formed a loose grouping termed the G7 with Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka, Justice and Constitutional Affairs minister Eugene Wamalwa and Mr Kenyatta under whose umbrella they have been criticising the PM.
The once powerful Pentagon, which enabled the party to win in six provinces in the last General election, is now a shadow of itself following the exit of Mr Balala and the challenge coming from Mr Mudavadi.
Water minister Charity Ngilu has been sending mixed signals while nominated MP Joseph Nyaga, who is the only ODM MP in Mount Kenya region, has of late been drumming up support for Mr Kenyatta.
Mr Balala’s sacking is perhaps the more difficult for the former minister remembered for stepping down for Mr Odinga during the 2007 nominations at Kasarani in a speech that moved the future PM to tears.
Mr Balala is also credited with coining the party’s name at Moi Stadium, Kisumu, in the run-up to the 2007 elections.
“I said to my colleagues, let us call it ‘Orange Democratic Movement’, a name that carried convictions of democracy,” he told the Sunday Nation in an interview last week.
Mr Ruto, who has had the longest standing divorce with Mr Odinga, has repeatedly reminded the PM: “I spent sleepless nights guarding the party’s votes and fought for the half loaf he bandies around.”
Mrs Ngilu, too, does not have kind words these days for the PM whom she once described as the Mandela of Kenya.

The minister was conspicuously absent when the PM toured Machakos County recently and has encouraged Mr Mudavadi to soldier on in his quest to clinch the party’s ticket.
“The unravelling of the Pentagon paints the picture of a king whose court has emptied. I doubt Mr Odinga will re-engineer himself from his latest self-inflicted injuries,” says former Subukia MP Koigi wa Wamwere.
While acknowledging Mr Odinga’s political acumen in times of crises, the politician said that the PM has never before faced so many challenges.
Most favoured
Mr Odinga has also had to fend off accusations recently that he was discrediting the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission and interfering with the Judiciary.
Matters came to a head when the PM appeared to confront ICC suspects, Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto, calling for their arrest in a paid advertisement.
The statement drew outrage and relish in equal measure. Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto saw it as confirmation of what they had been saying all along that the PM had engineered their predicament at The Hague-based court.
Documents tabled in Parliament by Yatta MP Charles Kilonzo to support the claims have, however, been dismissed by the British High Commission as fake.Mr Odinga was also forced to respond to a sensational claim in Parliament that he was working with a foreign government to hand over President Kibaki to The Hague when he leaves office.
Then coming hot on the heels of the ICC remarks, which critics saw as reckless given the sensitivity of the matter in a polarised electoral environment, the PM again came under attack, this time from Chief Justice Willy Mutunga, who accused him of intimidating the Judiciary.
Dr Mutunga was reacting to Mr Odinga’s statement that the January 13 Constitutional Court ruling on the date of the General Election was “fake” for failing to give a precise date for the polls.
Mr Odinga dismissed the ruling shortly after the IEBC said the elections would be held on March 4, 2013. President Kibaki supports the March 4 date as do a number of ministers and MPs.
Mr Odinga said the IEBC was interpreting a decision by “mahakama ya bandia” (fake or kangaroo court).
“Such unprovoked utterances are as unfortunate as they are unacceptable. They reek of Executive impunity and have no place in a properly functioning democracy,” Dr Mutunga said.
Mr Odinga has since apologised to the CJ and the Judiciary in a letter to Dr Mutunga and in a posting on his Facebook wall.
The CJ accepted his apology, but not before warning that any attempt to interfere with the independence of the Judiciary would not be tolerated.
Mr Odinga’s support of a December date also appears to have alienated him from his allies like Roads minister Franklin Bett, his East African Co-operation counterpart Musa Sirma and assistant minister Margaret Wanjiru who prefer that the elections be held next year.
Most favoured
Opinion polls have long shown Mr Odinga to be the man most favoured to succeed President Mwai Kibaki.
His position as a co-principal in the coalition government as well as the image he has painted as a reformer have appeared to give him leverage over his competitors.
However, his political future is now murky and has not been helped by reports that some of his loyalists have begun embracing a possible Mudavadi candidacy.
Political analyst Kipkirui Kap Telwa notes Mr Mudavadi’s Western backyard is the biggest ODM voting bloc outside Luo Nyanza and an estrangement would leave Mr Odinga dangerously exposed.
Pollsters have often attributed Mr Odinga’s high ratings to the fact that he had a party to run on and a running mate, unlike his competitors.
Mr Mudavadi’s strong bid for the ODM presidential ticket has necessitated the holding of ODM meetings, even though these have been postponed three times in the past one month after Mr Mudavadi made fresh demands.
A meeting is scheduled for this Wednesday to decide on the method to be used in the nomination of the party’s presidential candidate.
At the centre of the dispute between Mr Odinga and Mr Mudavadi is if a party leader ought to be the automatic presidential contender.
The ODM constitution says the party leader shall be the presidential candidate.

Did Uhuru have hidden hand in recent Cabinet changes?

PHOTO/FILE  Deputy Prime Minster Uhuru Kenyatta (left) with William Ruto (right) during a prayer rally at Ruiru Municipal Stadium in Ruiru on February 17, 2012.
PHOTO/FILE Deputy Prime Minster Uhuru Kenyatta (left) with William Ruto (right) during a prayer rally in Ruiru on February 17, 2012. Those who claim Mr Kenyatta played a key role in the reshuffle identify the International Criminal Court process and the Kibaki succession as the key factors that may have contributed to the DPM’s involvement in the President’s decision. 
Posted  Saturday, March 31  2012 at  22:30
As the dust settles on this week’s Cabinet reshuffle, there is growing suspicion that Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta played a role in the changes President Kibaki made on his side of the government.
The gains made by Mr Kenyatta and his G7 allies call attention to the DPM’s growing influence in the running of President Kibaki’s administration as the Head of State serves his last year in office.
It also appears that Mr Kenyatta has taken upthe late John Michuki’s role as one of the President’s key advisers in central Kenya.
There have been claims that the President consulted the DPM on the phone before making the changes in consultation with Prime Minister Raila Odinga, but the Sunday Nation could not independently confirm this.
Those who claim Mr Kenyatta played a key role in the reshuffle identify the International Criminal Court process and the Kibaki succession as the key factors that may have contributed to the DPM’s involvement in the President’s decision.
The reshuffle also put into perspective President Kibaki’s political end game as he retires.
He appeared to take advantage of two vacancies on his side of the Cabinet – the Environment and Finance – to reward Mr Kenyatta’s allies.
Asked to comment on his boss’ likely involvement in the recent appointments, Mr Kenyatta’s spokesman, Munyori Buku, laughed off the claim.
“The appointing authority in matters Cabinet is President Mwai Kibaki. He consults the PM.
“The matter is so black and white that there is no room for ambiguity. Those who say otherwise have the knack of the usual irritating irrelevance,” Mr Buku said.
But, even with this strong denial, the new appointments appear skewed in Mr Kenyatta’s favour, especially when one considers the ICC baggage he carries.
Two of his G7 allies landed key ministerial posts while another Kanu ally, Prof Sam Ongeri, was moved to the high profile Foreign Affairs docket.
G7 member Eugene Wamalwa was appointed Justice and Constitutional Affairs minister to replace Mr Mutula Kilonzo who was moved to Education.
Mr Kilonzo has been critical of Mr Kenyatta and his ICC co-accused, Eldoret North MP William Ruto, over their stand on the Hague-based court. (READ: Kilonzo transfer linked to his stand on ICC cases)
He has been asking the government to cooperate with the ICC and further asked Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto to drop their presidential ambitions and concentrate on clearing their names at the ICC.
By virtue of his appointment, Mr Wamalwa has replaced Mr Kilonzo in the Cabinet sub-committee on the ICC while Prof Ongeri takes up his predecessor Moses Wetang’ula’s position in the same sub-committee.
Mr Wetang’ula, who has a close association with Mr Raila Odinga’s side of the coalition, was moved to the less visible ministry of Trade.
Tried locally
A source close to one of the Ocampo Four, speaking on condition of anonymity, said on Friday that he was aware of the government’s determination to have the cases tried locally. (READ: Ocampo Four face Kenya trial deadline)
He added that the replacement of Mr Kilonzo with Mr Wamalwa was part of efforts to expedite the move by the government to try the cases locally.
“The government is working towards trying the cases locally, and details will likely emerge in the next few weeks.
“Mr Kilonzo was seen to be strong-willed on having the Ocampo Four proceed to The Hague and could easily frustrate such efforts. He could not be trusted to push for the move to have the cases go on locally,” he said.
Prof Peter Kagwanja, who has been an adviser of the PNU side of government, said the perception that Mr Kenyatta was a key player in the reshuffle is likely due to the nature of the changes and the political landscape as Kenya heads to an election.
They say someone should have been appointed to the Cabinet, especially after the DPM relinquished his Finance portfolio.

“I am not the appointing authority, and I will not speculate on what happened during the reshuffle, but people living in Kiambu are very concerned about the region’s exclusion,” said assistant minister Lewis Nguyai.
Political backing
But some observers say Mr Kenyatta could have asked the President to have someone from outside central Kenya to consolidate his political backing ahead of the elections in which he has said he will be contesting the presidency.
Political commentator Prof Larry Gumbe says this could be true, noting that if Mr Kenyatta was involved in the changes, he probably feels that he has Kiambu’s backing and should be looking outside for more support.
“If UK (Uhuru Kenyatta) has a hand in the reshuffle, he seems to have the Kiambu vote at this stage and it makes sense to trade a Kiambu Cabinet seat for some Luhya votes,” Prof Gumbe told the Sunday Nation.
Manage cases
Ikolomani MP Bonni Khalwale argues that President Kibaki used the reshuffle to manage the two Kenyan cases at the ICC.
In the reshuffle, Mvita MP Najib Balala was dropped as Tourism minister and his position given to Voi MP Dan Mwazo.“The President knew that he has an Attorney-General and a Chief Justice who are anti-Hague and felt that by naming Eugene Wamalwa to the Justice ministry, he will be able to manage the ICC process since he feels he can control him,” Mr Khalwale said.
Another G7 member, Chirau Ali Mwakwere, who is allied to Eldoret North MP William Ruto, was moved from the Transport ministry to the Environment.
Mr Njeru Githae, who was acting Finance minister, was confirmed to the position and his Metropolitan docket given to Mr Jamleck Kamau, the MP for Kigumo.
Kisauni MP Ali Hassan Joho was appointed Transport assistant minister.

Can Moi change Kanu’s fortunes?

Former president Daniel Moi during the inauguration of Salva Kiir as South Sudan President at Dr Garang Mausoleum in Juba, South Sudan, May 21, 2010. Photo/STEPHEN MUDIARI
Photo/FILE Former president Daniel Moi during the inauguration of Salva Kiir as South Sudan President at Dr Garang Mausoleum in Juba, South Sudan, May 21, 2010. Kanu has travelled a troubled road since being ousted from power in 2002 and every step it has taken since then seems to take it further into in political oblivion. 
Posted  Saturday, March 31  2012 at  18:57
The increasing number of leadership disputes in Kanu have unnerved many party loyalists including former President Daniel Moi.

Describing himself as a Kanu life member, the retired politician has told the Kanu leadership to get its act together and put its members at ease.
The latest conflict in the party, which is over money, has prevented Kanu from holding its National Delegates Conference. The NDC was postponed for the sixth time on Thursday.
This has resulted in sharp disagreements between the camp allied to party chairman Uhuru Kenyatta and party vice-chairman Gideon Moi over the cost of holding the NDC. (READ: Fallout in Kanu looms as Moi warns leaders)
While the Moi side has made a budget of Sh23 million, the Uhuru camp contends that the NDC conference should not cost more than Sh11 million.
“Sh23 million is simply too much unless people want to benefit personally from it. The funny thing is that they do not want to use a cent from the party coffers,” said Mr Kenyatta’s spokesman Munyori Buku.
However, Kanu secretary-general Nick Salat rubbished the claims as malicious and an excuse.
He added that Mr Kenyatta and his allies did not have the party’s interests at heart and should allow the rest of the party to work.
“The truth is that he has lost interest in the party and is holding it at ransom to do his things. These allegations are simply preposterous.
“If he [Mr Kenyatta] feels that this is not where his heart is, I think it is only good that he lets go and wish us well and we will wish him well,” Mr Salat said.
A war of words has erupted among Kanu officials in the last one week, which has seen former President Moi term the party as one lacking “a clear, sincere and responsible leadership”.
However, party members allied to Gideon Moi are optimistic that the party will soldier on. “This is a party with a rich history and it is fantastic imagination to think that anybody can kill it,” said Mr Salat.
Fiercely opposed
A past attempt to change the party’s name from Kenya African National Union to Kenya Alliance National Union was fiercely opposed by some party members, including the older Mr Moi, indicating the widening ideological gap in the party.
A section of the party’s leadership had suggested that the word “African” was discriminatory and should be substituted with the word “Alliance” as one of the measures suggested to revive its dwindling fortunes.
Kanu was set to meet on Friday for its long overdue National Delegates Conference where, among other issues, it would have ratified its new constitution and elected new party officials.
Mr Kenyatta said that the NDC was cancelled to allow branches to present their members recruitment returns so that it complies with the Political Parties Act, an explanation that did not satisfy Mr Moi’s side.
Invoking Article 13 (2) (e), Mr Salat on Friday convened a National Executive Council meeting that resolved to hold the NDC on April 13 with or without Mr Kenyatta’s blessings.
The Uhuru group has termed the Friday meeting “a gathering of villagers” whose decisions are not binding. The party last held elections in 2005 when Mr Kenyatta beat Mr Nicholas Biwott for the party’s top seat.
The older Mr Moi has warned the party’s leadership against the ongoing wrangles, saying the party was facing the real possibility of deregistration unless its leadership calls an NDC urgently and ensures that Kanu complies with the Political Parties Act.
Feel insulted
“Delegates feel insulted when they travel from such distant places as Mandera, Moyale and Lokitaung at great expense in terms of money and time only to be told the conference has been postponed indefinitely.
“This spectre of a possible deregistration is causing the genuine party members great concern, frustration and anxiety .... I should not be silent on such a crucial matter,” the former president said in a statement.
It was Mr Murathe, an aide to Mr Kenyatta, who categorically told the former President to keep off party affairs or return to active politics.But Mr Kenyatta’s side did not take the statement lying down. Former MP David Murathe and Kanu organising secretary-general Justin Muturi told off Mr Moi with the latter asking him to “relax and enjoy his retirement”.
“If Moi feels there’s no leadership in the party, why can’t he take it up instead of trying to micro-manage party affairs from behind the scenes?
“Is he aware that he is the greatest impediment to the smooth running of the party by refusing to let go and by sponsoring and financing endless squabbles in the party through the court cases of the likes of [Abdulrahaman[ Bafadhil and Salat?” Mr Murathe said.
Mr Kenyatta and his allies maintain it is not possible to hold an NDC as the party was yet to register the required number of members from the 47 counties in line with the Political Parties Act.
The deadline for meeting the requirements of the Political Parties Act is in 30 days.
During a Gema conference two weeks ago, Mr Kenyatta promised the meeting that he would announce in a month’s time the party on which he will vie for president in the next General Election. Those close to him say that party is not Kanu.
“Kanu is a hard sell in Mt Kenya and has lost its national outlook. Even in Rift Valley, URP [William Ruto’s United Republican Party] is making a lot of headway and we even wonder if Kanu is really a viable option,” one of Mr Kenyatta’s aides said.
The source said that Mr Kenyatta was not interested in retaining his position as the chairman since he wanted to comply with the Political Parties Act which bars public officers from holding party positions.
Sources within his camp have indicated that within the coming two weeks, the new party will present its papers to the Registrar of Political Parties.
Kanu has travelled a troubled road since being ousted from power in 2002 and every step it has taken since then seems to take it further into in political oblivion.
The party continues to lose popularity amid internal wrangles that have crippled its operations.
Its loss of popularity in Rift Valley, especially amongst the Kalenjin who were the bedrock of its support under the Moi years, dealt it a severe blow.
It also has the lowest number of MPs — at only 13 — it has ever had in Parliament in its 50-year history.
And if the leadership wrangles persist, then the threat by the Registrar of Political Parties might just be the final nail in its coffin.