Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s advisor on coalition affairs, Mr Miguna Miguna, was dramatically suspended from duty Thursday, accused of “gross misconduct”.
One of the more powerful figures around the Prime Minister, Mr Miguna has been instrumental in shaping Mr Odinga’s position on constitutional review and relations with coalition partners.
Suspended without pay, he was ordered by the permanent secretary in the PM’s office, Mr Mohamed Isahakia, to leave office immediately and hand over government property to the administration secretary, Mr Caroli Omondi.
Mr Miguna, an abrasive lawyer, is accused of misrepresenting the Office of the Prime Minister, possibly a reference to his having aired strong views which may have embarrassed the PM.
Mr Miguna, a regular commentator in the Star, has recently written stinging criticisms of the Interim Independent Electoral Commission (IIEC) in his column, particularly its chairman, Mr Isaack Hassan, whom he accused of unfairly taking all the credit for the commission’s good work so far.
His suspension comes at a time when the IIEC is in uproar, unsettled by anonymously authored complaints which the commissioners characterise as a hate campaign but which raise troubling questions on corruption and nepotism.
One of the anonymous complaints distributed to the media was published in the Star on Tuesday, apparently authored by a Mr Gikonyo Boaz.
On Wednesday, the IIEC suspended Mr Allan Odongo, an aide to commission chief officer James Oswago, after the same document, along with others in the same vein, was allegedly found in his computer.
The commission also recalled Mr Oswago from a foreign trip and called the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission to investigate what it termed a ‘hate campaign’.
Mr Odongo protested his innocence and said the documents were in general circulation and that he was not the author.
In his letter, Dr Isahakia said: “I have been instructed by the Prime Minister that you be and are hereby suspended from performing the duties as the Advisor, Coalition Affairs with immediate effect for gross misconduct. While on suspension, you will not be entitled to any salary until your case is finalised.”
Mr Miguna maintained he was innocent and claimed not having received the letter kicking him out of office.
He blamed his suspension on the “merchants of impunity”.
“I have not received any letter or communication to that effect…nobody has called me. I have just learnt of the news through the media,” said Mr Miguna, who said he was attending a workshop in Naivasha.
“I shall neither waver nor be cowed…these are the works of the merchants of impunity, who I can categorically say, shall fail,” he said.
Mr Miguna, fiercely loyal to Mr Odinga, has often taken strong positions on public issues.
The allegation of “misrepresenting” Mr Odinga, might be a way of Mr Odinga’s handlers saying he did not always share those positions.
He took a robust position regarding the sharing of Cabinet portfolios between the Party of National Unity and the Orange Democratic Movement Party where he accused PNU of breaching the National Accord.
In one of the incidents last year, He accused PNU of using Attorney General Amos Wako to rally African countries behind its mission to stop cooperating with the International Criminal Court (ICC).
At the centre of the accusation was a letter that Mr Wako had drafted questioning the failure by ICC to establish a liaison office in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, despite a unanimous agreement by countries which have signed the international law establishing it.
“The decision made today in regard to the letter to the ICC is troubling. We are not opposed to the establishment of a liaison office if it doesn’t go beyond its mandate. But this one will interfere with investigations in Kenya and it also has to do with (Sudan) President (Omar El) Bashir,” said Mr Miguna.
In reply, Mr Wako accused the PM’s coalition advisor of failing to understand the issues at hand.
He said: “The letter is just to ask: what is happening? And I hope they (ICC) will reply to clarify this matter because they even set a budget for it.”
In the same manner, Mr Miguna engaged in heated exchanges with Prof Kivutha Kibwana, who is President Kibaki’s coalition advisor, sometimes creating the impression that Mr Kibaki and Mr Odinga may not strike a common cord in the lead up to the referendum on the Constitution.
In ODM, he has been eloquently telling off rebel MPs led by suspended minister William Ruto, who appear to have decided to ditch the party for the United Democratic Movement (UDM).
Mr Charles Keter, one of the rebel MPs, said Mr Odinga should have taken responsibility for the gross misconduct of Mr Miguna.
“Miguna was acting on behalf of the master who should take responsibility. All long, he has maligned all leaders through his articles except one,” he said.
Dr Isahakia also accused Mr Miguna for harassing, intimidating and using abusive language against his colleagues in the office.
The letter also accused the PM’s coalition advisor of failing to sign his terms of service as the PM’s coalition advisor, “despite several appeals”.