Kenya MPs pass Constitutional Amendment and National Accord Bills as Raila becomes PM

After postponing the debate on presidential speech, Kenya MPs spent Tuesday afternoon entrenching Koffi Annan mediated agreement into the constitution. The agreement, in the form of Constitution Amendment of Kenya Bill no. 1 2008 and National Accord Reconciliation Bill, creates the position of prime minister and two deputy prime ministers entrenched in the constitution and pave way for a grand coalition between ODM and PNU. The bill was moved by the minister for justice and constitutional affairs, Martha Karua.

The constitutional amendment bill and an act of parliament which were the only items in the parliamentary order paper for today’s business were fast tracked through the second, committee stage and third reading as was the commitment of MPs to Koffi Annan. The bills will pave way for power sharing between ODM and PNU affiliates. The constitution amendment will lead to the naming of Raila Odinga to be named the Prime Minister and Musalia Mudavadi as one of the deputy prime minister. Martha Karua is expected to occupy the position of deputy prime minister on the PNU side.

The constitutional bill, by the second reading, managed to garner 200 MPs without any nos or abstentions. The bill required a two-third majority of 144 MPs. The agreement was signed by Kibaki and Raila on February 28th after a successful intervention of Tanzanian president Jakaya Kikwete just when the talks were about to collapse. Since then, Kibaki and Raila have been seen to closely relate together in a bid to show commitment to the unity pact.

Contributing to the bill, President Mwai Kibaki reiterated that the MPs should not loose sight of a changing world. He said that he was confident that the grand coalition arrangement will succeed and asked members to entrench the agreement into the constitution. He also reiterated the need to conclude the constitution review process. Kibaki had earlier in the day presided over the passing over parade at
Kiganjo Police College.

Raila, on his part, said that
Kenya is bigger and greater than all of us as he paid tribute to the international community for the role they played in the mediation process.

Martha Karua and James Orengo called for a bipartisan approach in the house. She further asked the legislators to give priority to the resettlement of internally displaced persons. Kalonzo on his part stated that the country cannot do without enacting the two bills.

Kibaki made history as the first president to contribute to a bill on the floor of the house. President Moi used to vote but never contributed. Kibaki sat with other members on the position usually occupied by leader of government business. He was in the chambers in his capacity as MP for Othaya and he avoided the seat he usually occupies during the state opening of parliament and during the reading of the budget. Raila, the soon to be named Prime minister sat directly opposite him on the seat usually sat by the leader of official opposition. The other MPs mixed and there was no demarcation along party lines.

The committee of the whole house stage which is an informal session took less than five minutes after Martha Karua moved that the committee of the whole house approve the bill without amendments. This led to the third and final reading which did not enlist any comments after which the speaker asked for another division (voting process). The vote for the third reading division had 197 yes, 0 nos and 0 abstentions. The bill now awaits presidential assent which is expected to be fast tracked as well. According to Amos Wako, the Attorney General, the bills have already been published by the Government Printers and will be signed by the president as soon as the MPs pass the second bill today.

National Accord and Reconciliation Bill 2008 was later moved by the Attorney General Amos Wako for the second reading. This was after the leader of government business and vice president Kalonzo Musyoka moved a motion to extend parliamentary proceedings beyond the mandated
6.30 pm until the house concludes its business for the day.

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