Kibaki meets Raila behind closed doors - Daily Nation
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Kibaki meets Raila behind closed doors

Tuesday February 23 2010

President Mwai Kibaki and Prime mister Raila Odinga chat after the opening of the fourth session of the tenth Parliament on February 23, 2010. PHOTO/HEZRON NJOROGE

President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga chat after the State opening of Parliament on February 23, 2010. PHOTO/HEZRON NJOROGE 

By LUCAS BARASA

President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga met for the first time on Tuesday, after wrangles hit the Grand Coalition Government over the reversal of the controversial suspension of two ministers by the PM.

And moments after the meeting, President Kibaki used his speech at the State Opening of Parliament to pointedly respond to some of the issues raised by Mr Odinga’s arm of the coalition.

He stated that the fight against corruption should not be politicised or personalised.

Mediation

He also seemed to dismiss Mr Odinga’s invitation for Mr Kofi Annan’s mediation by stressing the need for local solutions to problems rather than the temptation to seek external interventions.

The two principals held a closed-door meeting for a few minutes at Harambee House before they were joined by government chief whips Jakoyo Midiwo (ODM) and George Thuo (PNU).

Speaker Kenneth Marende attended another session hours before the reopening of Parliament.

Sources said one the issues discussed was the leader of Government Business on which they did not agree. They are expected to meet again over the issue next week.

Neither Public Service head Francis Muthaura nor acting permanent secretary in the Office of the PM Andrew Mondoh attended.

A meeting between the two coalition leaders has been on the cards ever since Mr Odinga announced the suspension of Education minister Sam Ongeri and his Agriculture counterpart William Ruto over corruption allegations.

State House promptly reversed the suspension, saying the Prime Minister had no such powers, upon which Mr Odinga declared a dispute in the coalition and requested the intervention of the African Union and Mr Annan, a former UN secretary-general. Mr Annan mediated the Kenya post-election crisis.

Mr Odinga’s ODM also announced it would boycott Cabinet meetings until the dispute was resolved.

Last Wednesday, President Kibaki and Mr Odinga, who was in Japan on an official visit, talked by telephone and agreed to a meeting, reportedly at the urging of Mr Annan and key Western governments.

The two also agreed to ask their respective supporters to tone down the exchanges that implied the coalition was about to collapse.

Mr Raila’s aides then said that the meeting was slated for Sunday upon the PM’s arrival from Japan, but this was also disputed by State House.

At a rally in Kibera on Sunday, Mr Odinga revealed that he would not relent on his demand that Cabinet ministers and other officials implicated in corruption step aside.

He also suggested that he would at least want the right to discipline ministers from his half of the Cabinet.