Kibaki calls ministers for urgent talks


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By Beauttah Omanga

President Kibaki has summoned a full Cabinet meeting this morning after the coalition Government suffered a humiliating defeat in Parliament last week.

Cabinet ministers who sought anonymity said top on the agenda in Tuesday’s meeting would be a review of their performance in Parliament last week, and internal strife as key figures angled themselves for the 2012 elections.

“We have not been told what the key agenda will be but it is obvious we will look at how we performed as a Government in Parliament during the crucial vote on the (Special) Tribunal and most likely take a common stand on the best way forward,” said the minister.

Some ministers said they had received communication from Mr Francis Muthaura, Secretary to the Cabinet, informing them that the President had rescheduled the Cabinet meeting from the traditional Thursday to on Tuesday. The Director of Presidential Press Service Isaiah Kabira confirmed the meeting and said it had been brought forward from Thursday because Kibaki would be presiding over the launch of a fundraiser for Nakumatt and Sachang’wan fire victims.

But independent sources said the President is expected to attend an educational function in his Othaya constituency on Thursday morning.

“The President and the Prime Minister are unhappy given the recent happenings that have seen a minister challenging them to resign while others want fellow ministers sacked over alleged scandals,” a minister said.

The ministers hinted that the President would also expect briefs from the Cabinet sub-committees on hunger and the constitutional review on the progress made so far.

The Cabinet also wants to take a common stand on the censure Motion against Agriculture Minister William Ruto, who has been under pressure from backbenchers to quit and pave way for independent investigations into the alleged maize scam in his ministry. Among those who are pushing for Ruto to step aside include Constitutional Affairs Minister Martha Karua and her Foreign Affairs colleague Moses Wetangula.

In response to Karua, the Agriculture minister hit back asking the Gichugu MP to lead the way “for failing to successfully fight corruption and also to give Kenyans a new constitution”.

Crucial test

Karua has maintained that any minister under whose docket claims of corruption are made must give way for investigations.

Wetangula came out at the weekend in support of a move by Ikolomani MP Dr Bonny Khalwale to introduce a censure Motion against Ruto.

Tuesday’s meeting will offer the ministers an opportunity to come face to face, away from the public rallies at which they tear into each other.

But the defeat in Parliament of the Government-sponsored Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill 2009, which would have anchored the Special Tribunal Bill to try perpetrators of post-election, remains a crucial test on the coalition.

Soon after the Bill was shot down, Nairobi Metropolitan Development minister Mutula Kilonzo challenged Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga to resign.

“…the President and the Prime Minister ought to resign after this defeat. But I am a lawyer and I know that we don’t have an electoral commission to handle such matter in case the two were to step down,” said Mutula.

Although the Government won the vote on a slim margin — 101 votes against 93 — those opposed to the establishment of the special tribunal carried the day as they had bypassed the 77-vote threshold required to defeat a Constitutional amendment.

The coalition government required 65 per cent of the vote, which is 145 of 222 MPs, to push through the constitutional amendment that would have entrenched the special court in the Constitution so that it’s not in conflict with the supreme law.

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