3 May 2009

By Citizen correspondents, Nairobi

The divide within the Kenyan coalition government over the control of the National Assembly widened further yesterday when Prime Minister Raila Odinga demanded fresh elections.

Mr Odinga's demand came as President Kibaki's PNU arm of government accused ODM of trying to mount a coup.

Speaking in his Lang'ata constituency, Mr Odinga said ODM will not retreat on its push to take the two positions of Leader of Government Business and chair of the House Business Committee held in the last session of Parliament by Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka.

Mr Odinga led the crowds in his constituency in showing support for fresh elections through a show of hands.

"We shall not relent in our quest. We have had enough. Therefore, if this issue cannot be resolved and our partners see the sense, we should go back to the ballot for an election. That's our message," he declared.

The PM, who was accompanied to the rally by Higher Education minister Dr Sally Kosgei and MPs Yusuf Chanzu (Vihiga) and Rachael Shebesh (Nominated) scoffed at claims that his party was out to wrestle power from President Kibaki.

Mr Odinga spoke just a day after the President wrote to the Speaker of the National Assembly Kenneth Marende, informing him that there was nothing new to consult about since he had appointed Mr Musyoka as the Leader of Government Business and also nominated him to chair the House Business Committee as required by the relevant Standing Orders.

President Kibaki said he had fulfilled his constitutional duty and would not be available for any other consultations.

When the matter came to a deadlock in Parliament last Thursday, the Speaker announced that he would seek the audience of both the President and the Prime Minister in an effort resolve the situation.

Mr Marende is expected to make a ruling in the matter on Tuesday, but has already warned Parliament that the Chair cannot adjudicate on political disputes within the government or between political parties.

Even as Mr Odinga spoke on Sunday at a rally at the Kamukunji grounds in the sprawling Kibera slums, Mr Musyoka led a group of 20 PNU MPs in dismissing his quest for the seat of Leader fof Government Business, saying that it was "illegal, unconstitutional and unacceptable."

And later, while addressing a rally in Lari constituency, Mr Musyoka said the President's word on who should be the Leader of Government Business in Parliament "was final."

His views were shared by Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta who said the PM was greedy for power.

SOURCE: The Citizen


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