Karua lectures President and Raila in public

Published on 06/06/2009

By Stephen Makabila

President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga went to bury the mother of their late compatriot in the ‘Second Liberation’ but got a tongue-lashing instead.

The two leaders were attending burial of Mama Esther Nekesa, mother of late Vice-President Kijana Wamalwa. Standing on the graveside of Nekesa’s grave, the two leaders rekindled memories of the many wars they fought with Wamalwa, including the struggle for a new constitution, and the successful removal of Kanu in the 2002 General Election.

President Kibaki leads other dignitaries in paying their last respects to Mama Esther Nekesa at Sichei village, Bungoma, on Friday. She was mother of the late Wamalwa Kijana former VP. [PHOTOS: BENJAMIN SAKWA/STANDARD]

Among those who roasted Kibaki and Raila was immediate former Justice Minister Martha Karua, particularly over the slow pace of reforms, splintering in the Grand Coalition, rogue police, and the Judiciary. “I left your Government a few months ago. I am in the opposition and I will push you into action,” Karua said.

Ikolomani MP Bonny Khalwale, Cyrus Jirongo (Lugari) and Assistant Minister Wakoli Bifwoli and Karua turned the burial at Sichei village, Bungoma West District, into a forum to upbraid the two principals.

Karua told Kibaki and Raila they signed the National Accord to lead from the front, and as such they should contain their political lieutenants in the Party of National Unity and the Orange Democratic Movement, who have taken a hard-line stand on constitutional review.

The two principals listened pensively but picked up the gauntlet when given the chance to speak. Those in the VIP tent included Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi and Cabinet Ministers Moses Wetangula, Fred Gumo, Noah Wekesa and Soita Shitanda.

Reform the Judiciary

Others were Assistant Ministers Omingo Magara, Peter Kenneth, Alfred Khangati, Elizabeth Ongoro and six MPs.

“We are tired of stands taken by political parties because this caused as to flop in 2005. We do not want PNU and ODM standpoints and you should tell your followers so,” said Karua.

She said the two should end corruption, reform the Judiciary, police, and stop shifting blame from the Executive.

It was the day memory of ‘Narc Dream’ that Kenya danced to in 2003, and which died with the falling out between Raila and Kibaki, leading to the 2005 referendum war and subsequent sacking of ODM leader and his allies from the Cabinet, was rekindled. But stand tall, though in spirit, was Wamalwa’s reconciliatory role between Kibaki and Raila then.

Bomas Talks

Khalwale had told the two that by letting their henchmen take hard-line stand on the review, they were setting a precedence for an impasse similar to the one experienced during the Bomas talks.

“The Constitution is bigger than ODM and PNU. Both of you should pull out of it and leave experts and the public to decide,” said Khalwale.

Jirongo asked them to sort out protocol issues, saying people were tired of infighting in the coalition. Wakoli said Kibaki and Raila were behaving as if there were heading separate governments.

“Each of you is accompanied by ministers from your own parties while on official duties abroad. Are you PNU and ODM president and prime minister, or Kenya’s?” asked Wakoli.

Wakoli also said: “We did not need to go to Geneva to be told our police is corrupt and rotten. They recently beat Mumias MP Ben Washiali and broke his hand during a peaceful meeting.”

Raila said those airing their views on the Constitution have the right of speech, and it should not be taken to be the official stand of his party.” Views from ODM and PNU are not final because we will sit, talk, and agree. We understand our problems because even Rome was not built in a day. What we should avoid is hatred,” said Raila.

Relevant Ministers

Raila further said ministers whose dockets are relevant to each visit always accompanied him and Kibaki overseas.

He asked: “Others spoke here the way they did so that they can go out and brag about how they lectured Raila and Kibaki. Why can’t they ask me some of the things yet we are always with them in Parliament?”

Kibaki said the country was on the right track towards a new constitution and that chances of failing for the second time were nil. “We want to finish the business of constitution making and do other things. The Parliamentary Select Committee on the Constitution is there and we are going to agree on minor issues through consensus,” said Kibaki.

He urged leaders to stay focused and stop too much talk without action. He repeated his Madaraka Day pledge of ensuring the country moves ahead peacefully.

Mudavadi urged Kibaki and Raila to meet the PSC jointly following the team’s request for audience with them. “PSC has written to both of you requesting for audience and you should meet them jointly to give Kenyans hope a new constitution is achievable.”

Magara said he was in the PSC and was soon going to name those undermining the process.

Mudavadi, Wetangula, Gumo, Wekesa and Shitanda criticised MPs who had attacked Kibaki and Raila, saying they lacked respect.

” The President and the PM are our leaders and should be respected at all times anywhere,” said Wetangula.

Wekesa said: “We also know how to lecture others but this was the wrong forum. I cannot sit to watch my President and PM being lectured.”

Gumo hit out at some of the MPs, saying their mouths were ‘poisonous’ and what they talk about has made outsiders think Kenya was on fire. “The President and the PM cannot transform Kenya alone. They need your support because they are also human beings,” said Gumo.

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