Cord criticises Kibaki military goodbye, says he jumped the gun

DNKibaki2203asxControversy is simmering within political circles over President-elect Uhuru Kenyatta and the deputy president-elect William Ruto’s increasingly active government engagements despite the Supreme Court petition challenging the presidential election results.

Also on the spotlight are the actions of outgoing President Kibaki since the March 4 General Election, which critics say paint the picture of a man eager to hand over power even before the Supreme Court’s dispenses with Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s petition.

Of particular concern to critics, especially the top leadership of Cord, are the actions of Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto over the last one week, and the symbolism of last Friday’s ceremony which saw the Kenya Defence Forces officially bid President Kibaki farewell.

Even though the Department of Defence was quick to down play the ceremony at the Moi Air Base in Nairobi’s Eastleigh neighbourhood, saying President Kibaki still remains in office until a new president is sworn in, the Cord leadership maintained that the Head of State ought to have awaited the Supreme Court’s verdict before undertaking the event.

“What happens if the Supreme Court rules that there is a fresh election and the incumbent is forced to remain in office for another 60 days? His powers as the Commander-in-Chief would have been greatly diminished in the eyes of the military, which has already bid him goodbye,” said Lands Minister James Orengo.

“The over-enthusiasm with which the (Assumption of the Office of the President) Act is being implemented amounts to undermining the authority of the Supreme Court because it is creating an impression that there is no challenge to the presidential election; that it is a fait accompli,” he protested.

“The Assumption of the Office of the President Act remains suspended if there is a petition challenging the election of the president,” said another top Cord member who said he was under instructions not to make public comments on the election controversy until the Supreme Court determines the petition.

Besides the military ceremony, the Cord team is alarmed at what it sees as a silent transfer of power to Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto.

The Cord leaders have taken great exception to the now routine security briefings to the President-elect and his deputy by top security chiefs led by KDF Chief Julius Karangi, Inspector General of Police David Kimaiyo and the Director General of the National Intelligence Service Michael Gichangi.

“There is a danger of compromising state security when the top security chiefs give classified intelligence security reports to a person who may end up not being the president in the event that the petition succeeds,” says the Lands minister.

The Cord team also accuses Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto of issuing policy statements and decrees when they have not been sworn in.

They cite Mr Kenyatta’s directive this week that the Mombasa port will not be privatised and that instead, his government will focus on ensuring that it operates efficiently for the benefit of all Kenyans. They question on whose authority Mr Ruto made a policy statement to the effect that the government has set aside Sh2.7 billion to import subsidised fertilisers.

Mr Ruto said the 45,000 metric tonnes will in the next one week be delivered to farmers across the country as the planting season sets in.

They also cite last Wednesday night meeting of the National Security Advisory Committee chaired by Head of Civil Service Francis Kimemia to discuss security threats and which imposed restrictions on political gatherings and warned Mr Odinga against proceeding with his planned countrywide “thank you” rallies.

There was also an earlier order for ministers who won elective seats to resign before being sworn in. Mr Odinga subsequently told ministers to ignore the directive and remain in office until a new government was established.

But even as Mr Odinga was ordering ministers to stay put, all ministerial functions including the approval of petty cash has been quietly transferred to permanent secretaries to the total exclusion of ministers and junior ministry staff.

Mr Odinga revisited the subject at a funeral in Siaya county yesterday, cautioning public servants especially Permanent Secretaries against taking “political decisions” in the presumption that they could oversee the transition period.

He maintained that the coalition government remains in office until the fourth President is sworn, clarifying that the lifespan of the coalition comes to an end when the new government legitimately assumes office.

“The coalition government is still in power because the President, the Prime Minister, and the Vice President will remain in office until the next government takes oath of office” he said.

Mr Kenyatta had earlier travelled to the Coast in an Airforce plane where he was followed by Mr Ruto who travelled in a Police helicopter.

“He should desist from using State resources and not behave as if he is already president. What he is doing right now is premature,” said Mr Odinga at the Bomas of Kenya where he met leaders elected under the Cord ticket in Nairobi.

Sunday Nation has however learnt that Mr Odinga and Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka still enjoy the privileges of their offices.

Mr Musyoka spent the better part of last week in his Jogoo House office attending to government matters, we learnt. “The VP still has unhindered access to the president, he is still his Vice president,” said his spokesman, Kaplich Barsito.

“To the best of my knowledge, their offices are still open. Their hotlines are still open and their security detail still in place and even their motorcade,” said the senior Cord official who declined to be named.

The government has in the past defended the security briefings to Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto saying they are provided for under the Assumption of Office of the President Act.

Government spokesman Muthui Kariuki cited section 10 of the Act which states that the President-elect shall receive security briefings from the respective national security organs.

It also binds public officers into furnishing the president elect with any information he may seek, failure to which he will be liable to a fine of up to Sh1 million fine.-Nation




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