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Home Horn News Kenya The coalition takes a new beating

The coalition takes a new beating

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The governing coalition formed between the PNU of President Mwai Kibaki and the ODM of Prime Minister Raila Odinga has entered into a new zone of strong turbulence. Two events of different origins are converging to rock this already unsteady edifice. Firstly, there is the forthcoming start in Nairobi of the investigations by the International Criminal Court (ICC) aimed at those responsible for the violence following the December 2007 election. Secondly, there is the debate on implementing the new constitution, which is reviving ethnic cleavages in the Kenyan political class, fuelled by the prospect of an election in 2012.

The ICC's unloved. Even if they pretend in public that they accept the principle of ICC investigations, many executives fear that they may have to suffer its thunder and want to stop their names from being included in this process, as it could weigh heavily on their political future. The Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, the Minister for Agriculture William Ruto, and his colleague in tourism, Najib Balala, together with a handful of close advisors, have already held a discreet meeting in the DPM's residence in Nairobi on 4 April, in order to agree their stories for the ICC. Kenyatta and Ruto had previously instigated legal proceedings for their names to be removed from the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) report on the 2008 massacres. But they consider that would not be enough to clear them and they are planning to call on the services of an international legal practice. All three are also preparing to call witnesses to defend them and counterbalance hostile witness statements collected by the various reports. Of the three, Kenyatta is the angriest against his former allies who drop him when the going gets rough, because many Central Province politicians whom he had supported in the past are not rushing to his aid. Some are even taking advantage of his difficult situation to try and impose themselves as head of the Kikuyu community, such as Jimmy Kibaki, the President's son, who is using the Simama Kenya movement to this end.

Keeping up appearances. Now that he has obtained that the new constitution guarantees the President's prerogatives, against the initial wishes of Odinga who wanted to strengthen those of the Prime Minister, Mwai Kibaki is leaving the pro-government MPs get by on their own in the debates on the other points in the proposed new constitution. He who was returned to power in 2008 after an election stained with irregularities and bloody riots now wants this chipped image to be forgotten so that he can go down in history as the President who led the PNU/ODM coalition right through its mandate, until the 2012 election. He has therefore been very careful of late to not go too often into the political arena. Recently, several MPs from the Central Province who had come to see him for help in the constitutional debate and ask him to designate a Kikuyu as successor in the presidency were dumbfounded to see how unreceptive he was. Similarly, the Head of State refused to choose between Kenyatta and his son Jimmy who are locked in battle in the Central Province. He did, nevertheless, ask his son to stop using the name of the President in his campaigning.

Necessity knows no law. The majority of politicians and members of the coalition government have only one insistent idea in their mind: building up a war chest ahead of the 2012 elections. Consequently the government and the administration have become riddled with corruption and are shaken by an increasing number of scandals that their "allies" in power throw in their face in order to weaken them. Examples are legion: from that of the ministry of education that is unable to explain the questionable expenditure concerning more than 100 million shillings ((EURO) 10 million) to that of the ministry of agriculture that was rocked by the "maize scandal", which illustrated to what extent the National Cereals and Produce Board was in a bad way. For their part, the services of the attorney general were unable to justify an expenditure of 50 million shillings ((EURO) 5 million) and the Kenya Port Authority let around a hundred containers through without levying any tax, pushing the Kenya Revenue Authority to open an investigation into the subject. And that's just for starters!


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