Kibaki, Raila lead 12 ministers in retreat over Grand Coalition

Published on 03/04/2009

By Alex Ndegwa

President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga will today host a high-profile retreat for 12 Cabinet ministers charged with streamlining the affairs of the Grand Coalition Government.

The third meeting of the Permanent Committee on the Management of Grand Coalition Affairs, which runs today and tomorrow, will take place at the Kilaguni Serena Lodge in Tsavo.

The meeting comes barely three days after the just-concluded Geneva talks hosted by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to take stock of the performance of the Coalition Government. Kibaki and Raila snubbed invitations to the conference.

The meeting rekindles memories of the retreat in February, last year, when Annan took then feuding PNU and ODM mediation teams to Kilaguni to iron out sticky issues that stood in the way of a power-sharing deal.

Kibaki and Raila will, however, hope that unlike the retreat that did not yield an agreement, this one will be fruitful and seal the rift within the coalition, which has come under fire over its dismal performance.

Yesterday, Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka said the agenda of the meeting included the speedy implementation of Agenda Four, to address the wrangles between coalition partners and underscore the principle of collective responsibility and the local tribunal to try post-election violence suspects.

“We would like to inform the public that the aim of this meeting is to enhance partnership within the Grand Coalition in order to expedite service delivery,” Kalonzo told a news conference at his Nairobi office, yesterday.

“We are meeting as one Government. The impression has been created that there are two governments,” Kalonzo said, referring to the persistent wrangling among ministers.

The VP, who was accompanied by Wildlife Minister Noah Wekesa, said PNU representatives in the committee had met earlier yesterday in preparation for the retreat and he was issuing the statement on their behalf.

Team has met twice

The high-powered team drawn from coalition partners — PNU and ODM — has met twice since it was crafted in January at the height of squabbling by ministers and amid fears that the Government could collapse before 2012.

Members of the team are Kalonzo, Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, Cabinet Ministers George Saitoti, Chirau Ali Mwakwere and Moses Wetangula from the PNU side. Justice Minister Martha Karua declined to take up her position.

ODM has on board deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi and Cabinet Ministers William Ruto, Mohammed Elmi, Jeffa Kingi, James Orengo and Charity Ngilu.

Also in attendance will be other members of the Serena Team Ministers Mutula Kilonzo, Sam Ongeri and Sally Kosgei.

The team’s third meeting aborted a few days to the Geneva meeting as the war of words between the coalition partners raged, further fueled by ODM’s fresh demands for a renegotiation of the National Accord.

The party claimed PNU had taken the lion’s share of public appointments, contrary to the agreed 50:50 basis, and intended to press for renegotiation of the deal in Geneva. But Annan stated that was never in the agenda.

Yesterday, Kalonzo was emphatic that neither would it be part of the Kilaguni retreat agenda.

“Renegotiation (of the accord) will mean that we go back the legislative way. I don’t think the public is in that mood,” he said.

Kalonzo said the joint coalition secretaries Miguna Miguna (ODM) and Kivutha Kibwana (PNU) were formulating the meeting’s agenda, adding: “I have not seen the issue of renegotiation on it.”

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