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US Help for PM Stuns Supporters of Kenya President Kibaki

Supporters of Kenya’s President Mwai Kibaki are reportedly unhappy with the direct support the United States government has extended to Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s office. This comes after the U.S. ambassador to Kenya pledged more than $500,000 to sustain the development and smooth running of the prime minister’s office. Ambassador Michael Ranneberger reportedly said the United States government recognizes the critical role a prime minister can play in the coalition government as mandated by the constitution.

But supporters of the President Kibaki describe the United States assistance as an unfortunate gesture, which sends a wrong signal to Kenyans about their government. From the capital, Nairobi, Member of Parliament and Kibaki supporter David Musila tells reporter Peter Clottey that some Kenyans are shocked by the behavior of the US government.

“Obviously, any help that is to be given to the Kenyan government is to be appreciated. But it is rather strange because there is only one government and if any funds are to be given by the U.S. government, they are to be channeled through the treasury. And obviously the U.S. ambassador may be behaving as if there are two governments, one government for the prime minister, and another government,” Musila noted.

He said despite the small US commitment, some Kenyans view the Washington’s support for the new post as underscoring a lack of unity in a coalition government.

“I was taken aback when I heard that announcement. In any case the amount of money that was promised is not a lot of money. It’s roughly 30 million shillings, which is approximately half a million dollars, so that’s not a lot of money,” he said.

Musila reiterated that the U.S erred by directly providing funds for the prime minister’s office rather than channeling it through the treasury, which he claims is the right thing to do.

“It’s indeed funny and as I said it sends a very wrong signal. You know the prime minister does not have any funds that he controls. Funds are controlled centrally by the minister of finance, and therefore, money that is going to be given if it is to be done for the purpose of the prime minister’s office will essentially come through the treasury, and it is the treasury that would accept. So I think the attempt by the US government to try to show like there are two governments in Kenya is not proper. Does the vice president of the U.S. have his own funds and the president his own funds? I mean it’s all not proper and I think wrong signals are being sent to us on these issues,” Musila pointed out.

He denied speculation that President Kibaki wants to stifle the office of the prime minister by refusing to provide funds for the office when Prime Minster Raila Odinga requested funds for his office.

“As you know, the office of the prime minister was created only the other day and the budget for the government was done last year in July. Therefore, there could not have been budget for office of the prime minister. But the most important thing for you to note is that there is no account for the prime minister, and any money must come through the treasury. And there is no ministry that is being funded by directly from overseas and therefore, that kind of suggestion is misplaced,” he said.