Kenyans have hailed what they describe
as a bold and unprecedented move by their parliament
speaker, who stepped in as temporary chairman of
parliament's House Business Committee. Speaker Kenneth Marende's dramatic step
is expected to force President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga to
work together to resolve the country's problems.
Marende said that the
executive bickering should not interfere with the smooth running of parliament
to maintain separation of powers as enshrined in the constitution. There have been
reported tensions between the two leaders after the prime minister accused the
president of being a stumbling block to necessary reforms.
Michael Tiampati told VOA there is a strong distrust between the two leaders.
majority of Kenyans are happy that some way has been found to ensure that
parliament actually does its business because there was apprehension that
without the House Business Committee, then not much would have happened, and
the main worry was caused by the obtained reality that is confronting Kenya.
Kenya is facing a great deal of challenges such as drought," Tiampati said.
said most Kenyans expect those in power to work to alleviate their sufferings.
is famine in some areas. There is also flooding in some other areas… and of
course, the internally displaced people. So Kenya is facing myriad problems that
would not give people the luxury of not having business transacted on the floor of
parliament," he said.
Tiampati described speaker Marende's decision as bold and
has happened is that the ruling by the speaker is a wake up call and it is a
challenge that has been thrown to the principals that are the president and the
prime minister to get their acts together and put the country first as opposed
to the power struggle that is apparent. That is, there are more important
issues that need to be addressed, and they ought to be addressed in parliament,
and the two leaders should provide leadership that would demonstrate that they
have the interest of the country at heart," Tiampati said.
said relations between the President and Prime Minister are filled with
history of the frosty relations between the president and the prime minister
goes back to 2003 when they cobbled together the infamous Memorandum of
Understanding, which according to the ODM (Orange Democratic Movement) was
never respected. And therefore, there is that suspicion. There have been
accusations from the ODM that say that the president is not very good in
keeping his word, and of course, that has been playing out even as recently as
the putting together of the accord that brought together the ODM and the two
PNU's (Party of National Unity) to cobble together a government of national
unity," he said.
political observers say Speaker Marende's move creates an enormous challenge for
both President Kibaki and Prime Minister Odinga. The two have been feuding over
the speaker position since Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka's nomination by
Kibaki was challenged by the prime minister, who appointed himself to the post.
Kenya watchers also praised Marenda's ruling, saying it forestalls the
stalemate in parliament and puts the blame where it truly belongs in the
Marende made it clear in his ruling that the speaker had
said his role as temporary chair of the House Business Committee will be
limited to the facilitation of parliament activities. During this period,
provisions of the standing orders that require specific action by the leader of
government business, (No. 36 (4) is an example) will remain suspended.
Prime Minister Odinga is a former parliament opposition
leader. Days before Speaker Marende's ruling, Odinga demanded a snap election in the event President
Kibaki refused to name him as the leader of government business in parliament.
The position is regarded as powerful and is normally held by Kenya's sitting
Kenyan legislators expected Speaker Marende to rule
on the issue on Tuesday and decide who should head the influential parliamentary
committee. But Marende threw the debate back to the parties and said they must
The unity administration was formed last year under the
auspices of former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to solve a post-election
crisis that displaced hundreds of thousands of people and set back trade and
economic growth across the region.