In Kenya, the process to incorporate into the constitution last week’s historic power sharing agreement begins Monday with a meeting of parliamentary members of President Mwai Kibaki’s Party of National Unity (PNU). Raila Odinga’s opposition Orange Democratic Movement will hold it’s own parliamentary group meeting on Wednesday before Thursday’s opening of the whole national parliament.
Noah Wekesa is minister of education in the Kibaki government. He told VOA he’s confident that despite some reservation by some, PNU members of parliament will support the historic power sharing agreement.
“The meeting will be a 3:30 today (Monday), and we expect that members of parliament on PNU side will be fully briefed and convinced to support for the purpose of moving forward because the nation has been jolted by violence that has gripped the country for the last six weeks and really Kenyans want to see a united country and they want a coalition government,” he said.
Wekesa said even though some PNU members of parliament still believe President Kibaki won the December 27 elections, they will still walk the spirit of the power sharing agreement.
“I think on the whole, yes. But I do suspect that a section of members of parliament, particularly from Central Province and Eastern Province may have a problem with it because I know that they were not quite excited about giving in power because they believe that the president actually won the election. But quite a number of us, including myself, we believe that this is necessary. The issue of an executive prime minister has been on the cards for a long time,” Wekesa said.
He said even though there are still some elements of the Kenyan society who still believe the country should have presidential system, Wekesa said the time has come when Kenya should move toward the parliamentary system where the prime minister has executive authority.
Wekesa said the landmark power sharing agreement has a positive implication for Africa as a whole.
“Africa has been bedeviled for a long time with the presidential system where people feel that they should have a presidential system because the president wheels so much power, and because of the tribal set up that we have in Africa that the tribe that has a president gets most of the top jobs and more power. This has not helped to unite Kenyans or Africans. But if we move toward a parliamentary system where the political parties are playing major roles rather than tribal feelings, that democracy is based on the strengths of political parties, therefore this will bring out the importance of political parties, then the issue of electing one person with so much power will be something of the past,” Wekesa said.
Wekesa was involved in the National Rainbow Coalition that brought Kibaki party. He said that coalition broke down because its members tried to build a coalition without considering Kenya’s constitution.
“Mwai Kibaki was expected in 2003 to form a government where a prime minister would have been named and so on and so forth. But at the same time we have not changed the constitution. So Mwai Kibaki was actually a victim of circumstances. He was supposed to address the memorandum of understanding, which included a provision for a prime minister. And yet we had not addressed the issue of the constitution. But this way round, we are going to do it the right way; we are going to change the constitution so that the accord is embedded in the constitution,” Wekesa said.