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Civil societies say Raila was within law

By | February 17th 2010

By James Ratemo and Ngumbao Kithi

Political parties and civil societies have supported Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s step to suspend two cabinet ministers mentioned in corruption.

The parties under the auspices of Centre for Multi-Party Democracy and civil society organisations meeting under the banner of multi-sectoral National Salvation Forum called on the suspended ministers to keep off office until investigation was done.

They expressed concern at the incoherence between President Kibaki and Raila, saying the bickering was threatening the National Accord.

Accord spirit

"In the spirit of the National Peace Accord, the Prime Minister has powers to suspend the ministers… otherwise it will be of no use being supervisor and co-ordinator of ministries," said CMD-Kenya Chair Larry Gumbe.

"We note with concern that the PNU–ODM standoff is increasingly threatening the delivery of a new democratic constitution and fight against impunity and corruption," read the joint statement in part.

Prof Gumbe lashed out at Attorney General Amos Wako for failing to uphold the spirit of the National Peace Accord. "Wako is an impediment to progress. People should not listen to Wako," said Gumbe.

He termed Agriculture Minister William Ruto’s insistence that Raila should also step aside a null argument and told him to first step aside before crying foul.

"Once you are quoted in a report by a reputable firm like PriceWaterhouseCoopers, you should step aside and stop dragging other people’s names along," said Gumbe.

On Monday, Wako said Raila had no constitutional powers to suspended Ruto and his Education counterpart Sam Ongeri.

"According to the spirit of the National Peace Accord. Raila and Kibaki signed to uphold accountability in Government. It is therefore essential that ministers and senior Government officials mentioned in corruption step aside," said CMD-Kenya Executive Director Njeri Kabeberi.

National Convention Executive Council Executive Director Cyprian Nyamwamu said a divided Parliament would lead to its inability to reach consensus on a proposed constitution for the referendum.

"The Sunday’s disagreement may lead to a divided National Assembly," read the statement in part.

Elsewhere, the Muslims for Human Rights (Muhuri) has asked Prof Ongeri and Ruto to step aside or face demonstrations demanding their sacking.

Nothing political

Muhuri Executive Officer Khalid Hussein said there was nothing political in asking them to step aside.

Mr Hussein said his organisation was disgusted by the President’s reversal of the two ministers’ suspension by Raila.

Khalid said Raila’s action was the best in dealing with corruption and ensuring that ministers delivered.

He said they would propose suspending and possible sacking of the ministers.

Failure to suspend the two ministers, Khalid said, was a clear indication that the President tolerated corruption and lacked interest to fight impunity.

"This latest move is also a clear show that there is no coalition government and that we are no better than we were in early 2008 in terms of governance," he said.

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