A series of events which led to the row between the two principals can be revealed.
The spat between Party of National Unity and the Orange Democratic Movement may have started as an attempt to nudge President Kibaki to take disciplinary action against Education minister Sam Ongeri over the loss of free primary education fund, but its aftermath has driven the cohabitation between the PNU and ODM to the cliff edge.
Prime Minister Raila Odinga, who apparently had given an earful to the civil society’s call for top-level government action against corruption, used the workshop of permanent secretaries and heads of parastatals to state he had asked the President to come down hard on those suspected to be corrupt. But the protagonists interpret statements differently. PNU did and so did ODM.
A few days later at an Equity Bank function in Upper Hill, a well crafted statement that sought to allay fears surrounding the free primary education was issued.
Sources said the speech by deputy PM Uhuru Kenyatta was not taken lightly by Mr Odinga. The PM, whose written speech did not touch on the Sh103 million scandal, decided to speak further on the subject off the cuff.
At this point PNU operatives, aware that forensic audit report by PricewaterhouseCoopers which linked the PM’s office to the disappearance of maize worth Sh2 billion was lying on Mr Kenyatta’s desk at the Treasury, decided to act.
The report, which implicated PS Mohamed Isahakia and principal administrative secretary Caroli Omondi, was conveniently leaked to media houses.
Last Thursday, Mr Odinga sought to stand by the officers, explaining that action would be taken against them once the taskforce he had set up completed its work.
But PNU, especially Prof Ongeri, accused the PM of defending his officers while demanding the resignation of those outside his camp.
Sources said his two close allies, ministers Anyang’ Nyong’o and James Orengo advised the PM to ensure that Dr Isahakia and Mr Omondi stepped aside. This, they figured, would have sent a message that Mr Odinga was committed to the fight against corruption.
The PM obliged. He summoned the two officers and asked them to step aside. They did so on Saturday morning.
State House was caught unawares and President Kibaki’s inner circle was spurred into action. Sources said Attorney-General Amos Wako, Head of Civil Service Francis Muthaura and National Security Intelligence Service director Michael Gichangi were summoned to State House.
President Kibaki had to act. That was how PSs Romano Kiome (Agriculture), Ali Mohamed (Special Programmes), Karega Mutahi (Education) and National Cereals and Produce Board boss Gideon Misoi were suspended.
And because he is the appointing authority, the President included the names of Dr Isahakia and Mr Omondi in the suspensions. The ODM camp was furious.
How can he act against PSs yet Cabinet ministers Ruto and Ongeri were spared?
Mr Odinga called the legal minds in his team — Mr Orengo and Miguna Miguna (his coalition adviser). It is said they went through the National Accord, and cited section 15(a) of the Constitution and section 4(1).
They argued Mr Odinga had authority to discipline ministers and PSs in his capacity as the supervisor and coordinator of government affairs.
Armed with this legal advice, the PM called a press conference on Sunday and announced the suspension of Mr Ruto and Prof Ongeri for three months.