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Is creating opposition group in the Kenya parliament going to cause Government Grand Coalition colapse? Most ministers are afraid.

Posted by African Press International on August 29, 2008

Trouble in ODM over Opposition Bill

By Ayub Savula

Secret meetings over a Bill seeking the creation of the grand opposition are sending jitters in Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s camp.
Proponents of the grand opposition have stepped up their lobbying efforts and are roping in ODM MPs who are signing up to support the Bill that is due to come to Parliament for debate soon.
Already, 30 MPs have signed up so far, prompting ODM Secretary-General Anyang’ Nyong’o to call a crisis meeting this week.

“We are going to call a meeting to discuss the matter. I don’t know why the MPs are defiant,” Nyong’o said.

Justice minister Martha Karua added her voice to the debate at the weekend when she said she would “receive the Bill on behalf of the Government” and present it to the House for discussion.

Karua added: “We are not afraid of opposition in Parliament.”

The Prime Minister has been opposed to the proposition for Official Opposition in Parliament. His party is wary of losing numbers. The legal implications of its ratification would mean ODM might not enjoy a majority in Parliament, which in turn would jeopardise the PM’s post and occasion the collapse of the coalition.

But this need not happen if the National Assembly (Opposition Bill, 2008), which was published last week and is up for debate, is endorsed by the House.

The Bill recognises the Opposition as a caucus of like-minded MPs and does not demand their quitting the parties that sponsored them to Parliament.

Raila ally and Government Chief Whip, Gem MP Jakoyo Midiwo told The Standard that the MPs were being sponsored by a top Cabinet minister to derail the Grand Coalition Government headed by President Kibaki and Raila.

Assistant minister Joshua Ojode said: “The MPs have a hidden agenda and we have to fight it”.

Massive support
But some of the MPs who signed to support the Opposition Bill remained unrepentant.

“I’m among the MPs who started it and I shall stand by it,” said Chepalungu MP Isaac Ruto, adding that the proposal had received massive support from the Rift Valley.

The Standard has established that the MPs fronting the Bill have intensified their meetings to galvanise support in Parliament.

But Midiwo said ODM was aware of a top Cabinet minister seeking to undermine the current Government to pave way for his own quest for the presidency in 2012.

“This is part of a wider scheme against Raila for the next General Election. The minister is sponsoring these games to undermine the leadership of Kibaki and Raila so that he can emerge a frontrunner in the General Election as he is dreaming that the coalition will flop,” he added.

Midiwo said he would name the minister in Parliament when the House resumes, if he does not stop his activities.

He added: “As a party we don’t want these things. We are in Government and we cannot afford to be in the opposition at the same time.”

When asked for his comment on the matter, the PNU Chief Whip and Juja MP George Thuo said he was waiting for the motion to be brought to the House to determine the level of the PNU support.

“I have no clue. I am waiting for the Bill to be tabled in Parliament,” said Thuo.

Attorney General Amos Wako has already given a go ahead for the publication of the Bill that is due to come to the House in October.

The secretary of the committee pushing for the Bill, Budalang’i MP Ababu Namwamba, confirmed that 30 MPs had signed up to support it.

Namwamba said there were no provisions in ODM’s constitution for a disciplinary action against MPs supporting the Bill.

Namwamba also said fears by some individuals against the Bill were unfounded as it would not destroy the grand coalition.

“I respect the Prime Minister, but I have a conviction to support the Bill to create an outfit that will check against the excesses of the Government,” he added.

While addressing the annual anniversary of former Vice-President Michael Wamalwa, Raila opposed the Bill on the grounds that ODM was in the Government.

He said ODM MPs should not support the Bill because there were backbenchers in Parliament who can play the role of opposition.

Among the MPs supporting the Bill include Charles Kilonzo, Bonny Khalwale, Kiema Kilonzo, Joshua Kutuny, Mithika Linturi and Cyrus Jirongo, among others.

But Namwamba said they had convinced the youthful MPs from Rift Valley to support them too.

However, Jirongo said MPs from Nyanza who were initially supporting the Bill have pulled out.



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