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ODM, PNU clash about system of Government

By | May 20th 2009
By | May 20th 2009

By David Ohito

Political antagonists ODM and PNU have sharply differed over the system of government the country should adopt in the quest for a new constitutional dispensation.

Whereas ODM insists on a purely parliamentary system of government where the Prime Minister is the chief executive, PNU supports a hybrid system — a mixture of the presidential and parliamentary system.

But ODM is also adding a new twist to their preferred system by seeking a clause providing for recall of the PM. ODM says it will back a parliamentary system of government headed by a prime minister who can be recalled by the party or Parliament and replaced by an individual from the same party with majority in Parliament.

Party insiders said yesterday ODM borrows from South Africa, where the African National Congress withdrew support for President Thabo Mbeki, forcing him to exit power unceremoniously before his term expired.

He was replaced by Mr Jacob Zuma, who went on to become the President of South Africa in last month’s election.

ODM also supports devolution (majimbo) through dispersal of power and resources to the regions.

ODM’s position sharply differs with coalition partner PNU, which announced last week it would back the current hybrid system that has presidential and the parliamentary characteristics.

The two opposing stands are potential conflict areas which could re-open bitter rivalry as that witnessed in the 2004-2005 Bomas constitutional conference in search of a new constitution.

Push for reforms

The PNU top decision-making organ said members would push for key reforms in the police force and Judiciary as well as a new Constitution. Already a taskforce on police reforms is in place although there are no signs of a radical surgery in the Judiciary.

But PNU coalition partners — DP and Safina — have since distanced themselves from the position, saying they were not consulted.

Safina leader Paul Muite said his party had not been involved in the PNU decision.

PNU leaders said they were committed to major institutional and constitutional reforms contrary to ODM claims that it was out to scuttle the review process.

Last week, PNU Secretary-General Kiraitu Murungi said: "PNU is a party of reforms. Very soon, we shall submit our recommendations to the Committee of Experts on Constitutional Review." Yesterday, ODM National Executive Committee and Parliamentary Group met at party headquarters and announced it will go for nothing less than a parliamentary system where the prime minister is the country’s chief executive.

The party discussed the leadership deal in the absence of its top brass, including Prime Minister Raila Odinga, his two deputies William Ruto and Musalia Mudavadi.

Raila is on a trip in the US, but it could not be established why Mr Ruto and Mr Mudavadi skipped the crucial meeting.

ODM Chairman Henry Kosgey said: "We will not support the hybrid system which we have today, courtesy of the coalition Government."

PNU announced last week it would support the US system where ministers are picked from among citizens and not MPs.

Immigration Minister Otieno Kajwang’ said: "This so-called hybrid system is a cocktail of chaos."

The party said: "ODM totally rejects PNU’s minimum reforms agenda. We stand for comprehensive constitutional and institutional reforms."

The party, however, backed electoral and police reforms and promised to press for others, including the Judiciary. In a statement read by Deputy Secretary-General Joseph Nkaissery, the party appointed a 24-member team to prepare a comprehensive position on a people-driven constitution.

Several MPs

The team includes ODM Vice-Chairperson Elizabeth Ongoro, Dr Mutakha Kangu, Mr Miguna Miguna, veteran politician Martin Shikuku, Ms Monica Amolo, Prof Edward Oyugi, Mr Mugambi Imanyara, and several legislators.

The party also backed the creation of new districts carved along constituency boundaries as contained in the Bomas draft, but rubbished President Kibaki’s allegedly haphazard creation.

But ODM opposed the creation of 19 provinces as proposed by PNU.

"ODM stands for comprehensive reforms based on the Bomas draft and supports a parliamentary system of government and devolution of power with an executive prime minister," Mr Nkaissery said.

The party also renewed its quest to have Raila become Leader of Government Business in Parliament.

"Raila is the leader of the party with majority MPs in Parliament and is the rightful Leader of Government Business in Parliament and chairman of the House Business Committee in accordance with the National Accord," Nkaissery said.

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