Raila sparks new row with call for interim government

NASA leader Raila Odinga
Opposition leader Raila Odinga's call for the formation of a six-month interim government has ignited a fresh row with Jubilee Party, which is accusing him of stoking a crisis to get into power.

Raila had said only an interim government could facilitate open dialogue by Kenyans to resolve the election stand-off after his National Super Alliance (NASA) boycotted the October 26 repeat presidential vote and vowed not to recognise President Uhuru Kenyatta's re-election.

“We need an interim arrangement of governance involving representatives of both parties and six months will be required to carry out all these changes that we need in our country in order to have a proper, free and fair election,” he told Reuters on Tuesday evening.

But Jubilee leaders Wednesday rejected Raila’s demand, saying an interim government was not provided for in the Constitution.

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And President Uhuru Kenyatta accused Raila of illegally seeking a power-sharing deal through a petition filed by an activist at the Supreme Court.

"The real purpose of this suit is to force the first interested party (Uhuru Kenyatta) to enter into negotiations with NASA with a view to sharing power," the President replied in court papers filed on Wednesday by his lawyer Fred Ngatia.

Regretted boycott

This was his response in a case in which activist Okiya Omtatah wants the October 26 vote nullified and a caretaker government formed. The President argued that Raila and his NASA brigade regretted boycotting the October 26 election and were hiding behind the activist to force through a coalition government.

Raila said in the interview that it would be nearly impossible for Uhuru to govern a country where almost half the people feel left out and short-changed.

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On Wednesday, however, Jubilee leaders of majority Aden Duale (National Assembly) and Kipchumba Murkomen (Senate) said Raila’s demands were unconstitutional and could not be met.

The two accused the NASA leader of creating a non-existent crisis to pave the way for him to demand a ‘nusu mkate’ - coalition - government while saying the door for any dialogue had been closed.

“The Constitution does not anticipate an interim government; it only anticipates three elections - a general election, repeat election and by-election. As far as we are concerned the next election will be held on August 9, 2022,” Mr Duale fired.

“The only agenda Jubilee can discuss with Raila is his retirement package. The Legislature is in place and so is the Judiciary. If the Supreme Court affirms President Uhuru Kenyattta’s victory, then the Executive will be constituted immediately to make the Government complete.”

Two petitions have been filed challenging Uhuru's re-election and public hearings by the Supreme Court begin next week.

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Mr Murkomen said Raila’s withdrawal from the October 26 repeat poll was not informed by fears of a compromised exercise as claimed but his fear of losing.

“He has now created a crisis in his head. This confirms what we have been saying all along, that he wanted a ‘nusu mkate’ government. But we want to make it clear that we will not discuss anything with him that is unconstitutional,” he said.

Raila's statement

NASA secretariat Chief Executive Officer Norman Magaya however said Raila’s statement was not new, as this was what the Opposition had been saying throughout.

“We said and repeated that as from 1st of November, President Uhuru Kenyatta should hand over to an interim government to pave the way for new elections. That was, is and will be our position; there is nothing new,” Mr Magaya said.

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He said NASA was not begging for any dialogue with Jubilee, adding the Opposition was only interested in talks that could lead to a credible election, but the time had lapsed.

“Jubilee will regret wasting the opportunity for dialogue once the People's Assembly has been formed. They don’t know what lies ahead for them,” he added.

Duale and Murkomen’s comments were supported by a group of Jubilee MPs who told Uhuru not to yield to Raila's demands for the formation of an interim government.

Nominated MP Gideon Keter led five lawmakers in voicing their disapproval, maintaining that Uhuru should not agree to be held at ransom by Raila.

Mr Keter, who was accompanied by David ole Sankok (nominated), Francis Waituti (Juja), Eric Njiru (Runyenjes), Gabriel Mukuha (Githunguri) and Ruweida Obbo (Lamu) during a press conference at Parliament Buildings, said they were against any calls for any negotiations.

Legitimate dialogue

“We state categorically and without fear of contradiction that we are strongly opposed to any calls for negotiations outside the Constitution. The only legitimate dialogue that can be held about the formation of Government in this country is with Kenyans themselves,” stated Keter.

Mr Sankok condemned what he termed the insincerity of the Opposition leaders, noting that after they vehemently denied claims that they were interested in an interim government in the past, they had finally come out and admitted that was what they wanted.

“As Jubilee leaders, we are asking our party leader not to agree to be blackmailed and held at ransom by a few individuals. There will be no ‘nusu mkate' government. We will not let some people take leadership through a short-cut,” said Sankok.

Waititu said Kenyans made their decision on October 26.

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Raila Odingainterim governmentNASAPresident Uhuru Kenyatta