Kenya’s parliament meets Tuesday to debate and put into the constitution the power sharing agreement signed last week between President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga. The deal creates the posts of president and prime minister and two deputies. But what’s not clear is whether current vice President Kalonzo Musyoka would retain his post.
Agara Kabaji is senior lecturer at Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology in Kakamega, Western Kenya. He told VOA the parliament is under enormous pressure from the people to fast track and approve the power sharing deal.
“I think that first and foremost the members of parliament will definitely pass the bill. And they will actually have to fast track the bill so that it is passed within a record time. They are actually responding to the pressure that the people are exacting to make sure that their leaders to make sure that the bill is passed,” he said.
The agreement creates the position of president and prime minister, and Kabaji described as very interested in terms of what exactly would be the responsibilities of the two offices.
“While the prime minister will wield some power in terms of supervising the work of the various ministries, the real executive power still vests with the president,” he said.
The power sharing deal also calls for the creation of the post of vice president. What it does not make clear is whether current vice President Kalonzo Musyoka would retain his post.
Kabaji said many Kenyans felt betrayed when Musyoka joined with President Kibaki soon after the December 27 election,
“Kalonzo Musyoka, I think, stands in a very precarious position. First and foremost, he rushed to getting into an accord and agreement with PNU (Party of National Unity), President Kibaki’s party when he should have known then that the whole country was not happy with the whole conduct of the election. So a big section of the country seems to look at Kalonzo as a person who cannot be trusted,” he said.
Still Kabaji said it is possible Musyoka could still maintain his vice president position under the new power sharing deal.
“With the creation of the position of the prime minister, if at all Kalonzo Musyoka retains his position as the vice president, it basically means that he remains that he remains the vice president of the republic. But if at all he’s given the position of vice president and minister for home affairs, something that has always been reserved for the vice president, it would basically mean he will actually come under the supervision of the prime minister who, in this particular situation would likely be Raila Odinga,” he said.
With both President Kibaki’s PNU party and Raila Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement party vying for equal ministerial positions in the new coalition government, it is not clear which one would be considered the opposition.
Kabaji said a coalition of interest groups, including civil society and journalists, would most likely play the role of opposition to check on the new government.
“What I know about what is going to happen in parliament is that we will definitely have backbenchers who will not be actually part of the government. And therefore they are actually going to form a very formidable force that is going to check the government. But besides that the civil society is definitely going to be actually come out now, especially at this particular time when we are talking about a review of the constitution. And then of course the press, I have no doubt the government would definitely be checked by those three sections of the Kenyan community,” Kabaji said.