Kenya’s embattled President Mwai Kibaki is expected to face a stiff political showdown with members of the opposition Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) as he officially convenes parliament today (Tuesday). The ODM has expressed deep reservations about what it described as Kibaki’s illegitimate presidency. The party has maintained that its candidate, Raila Odinga, won the December 27th elections, but the electoral commission declared President Kibaki the winner for a second five-year term. Some international observers have questioned the credibility of the election results. At least 600 people have died in post-election violence that has plunged the country into a political crisis.
William Ruto is an opposition ODM Member of Parliament. He tells reporter Peter Clottey from the capital, Nairobi that President Kibaki has no authority to convene parliament.
“ODM has reservations on the manner in which parliament was convened because in our opinion a person who has lost elections has no authority to convene parliament. But however, since we want to pursue this matter at a different level, we will be in parliament ready for the business of parliament, which would be mainly the election of the speaker, and the swearing in of the members of parliament,” Ruto noted.
He denied the ODM is legitimizing President Kibaki’s presidency by participating in Tuesday’s opening session of parliament session, which would be presided over by President Kibaki.
“In no way will we submit to the presidency of Mr. Kibaki because he was not elected. The fact that he continues to occupy State House and to use public resources does not in any way give him credit or legitimize his stolen election. Our move to parliament is basically to restate our position as ODM that indeed we won the elections. We are confident that today we are going to elect and ODM speaker in the name of Kenneth Merende and subsequently, we will continue to conduct the business of parliament as government, and as a party that won the majority seats in parliament and as a party that has the control of the instruments of the legislature,” he said.
Ruto said the opposition party would administer parliament as if the ODM was in power.
“We will manage parliament as though we were government; we will set the agenda for parliament, we will make sure that once we elect a speaker we have an agenda which we promised the people of Kenya. We will run with that agenda and prioritize on the bills to be passed so that we can implement the ODM agenda. Meanwhile, we will confront Mr. Kibaki and his group to see sense and submit to the will of the people of Kenya by either agreeing to a re-run which we are ready or getting out so that we can swear in the person who won the election as president,” Ruto pointed out.
He described the Kibaki government’s refusal to accept the mediation effort of former U.N Secretary-General Kofi Annan as arrogant.
“It just helps to show the international community the kind of impunity with which people in PNU (ruling Party of National Unity) operate. They are trying to burry their heads in the sand that there is no problem in our country, hoping that with time things will cool down and it is going to be business as usual. The international community has said absolutely clearly that it is not going to be business as usual. We are telling Mwai Kibaki and his group that they would not get away with this one,” he said.
Some political observers are criticizing the opposition for participating in the opening session parliament. They say by participation in ceremony, the party would be legitimizing what it has already described as illegitimate.
Meanwhile, Kibaki’s government has reportedly played down the role of the former U. N. Secretary-General who is expected to mediate between the government and the opposition to end the escalating post election violence that has plunged the country into a political crisis. The government said it has not assented to Kofi Annan’s arrival to mediate between it and the opposition ODM party.