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Boundaries: PNU team holds meeting boycotted by ODM

Saturday November 27 2010

PNU chairman Prof George Saitoti (right) chats with Amos Kimunya and Kiraitu Murungi during the PNU Governing Council meeting at Wonderjoy grounds in Kiambu, on Saturday. PHOTO/STEPHEN MUDIARI

PNU chairman Prof George Saitoti (right) chats with Amos Kimunya and Kiraitu Murungi during the PNU Governing Council meeting at Wonderjoy grounds in Kiambu, on Saturday. PHOTO/STEPHEN MUDIARI 

By NJERI RUGENE [email protected]

A high-level meeting called at Harambee House to end the crisis over the creation of new constituencies was cancelled at the last minute on Friday.

It is understood that Prime Minister Raila Odinga called off the meeting, which the President was also to attend, citing events in Parliament on Thursday night when MPs stopped debate on nominees to sit in two key Constitution implementation commissions.

Government property

On Saturday, the Sunday Nation learnt that Mr Andrew Ligale, the former Interim Independent Boundaries Review Commission chairman, had received instructions from government officials that the commissioners should hand over government property such as vehicles to the ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs as outlined in the new Constitution by Saturday morning. Their offices were to be closed by midnight.

Sources in government said Mr Odinga proposed cancellation of the meeting and suggested it be postponed to Monday. The meeting was intended to discuss an updated list of new constituencies.

Notably though, ministers from the ODM side – members of the Cabinet Committee on Coalition Affairs – who were expected at the meeting did not show up at the President’s Office. Instead, the ODM leadership opted for a National Governing Council meeting at the Bomas of Kenya.

But their PNU counterparts held their own meeting chaired by VP Kalonzo Musyoka “to discuss the way forward” in the constituency boundaries row.

Those in attendance at the Friday meeting included ministers Uhuru Kenyatta, George Saitoti, Mutula Kilonzo, John Michuki, Kiraitu Murungi and Beth Mugo.

It is understood that the PNU group resolved that new boundaries be drawn up by a new team. “It was agreed that the Ligale group had done its work and it was now upon the President and the Prime Minister to start the process of constituting a new team. Our hope is that the new process is speeded up,” said a leader at the meeting.

Sources intimated yesterday that the feeling among the PNU side of the coalition is that the proposed new constituencies appeared to favour ODM strongholds and, if embraced, would give the Raila-led party a majority in Parliament.

“With such numbers in the National Assembly, and a likely two-thirds majority, ODM could do anything including changing the Constitution. A new team is necessary to ensure fair and just distribution of constituencies,” he added.

There was a general consensus that the new constituency boundaries were not a crisis and there was enough time – before August 2012 – to work on them.