The opening of Parliament promises to showcase the political wrangling toward 2012, as well as the key thing that Members seem to be fully dependable on: salary and expense increases. The most important business, consideration of a new constitution, will kick off with the delivery of the latest “harmonized draft” from the Committee of Experts to the Parliamentary Select Committee on the Constitution on Wednesday, with the Committee to then table the draft on the 25th for 30 days of debate.
The opening ceremony will feature the opportunity for President Kibaki and Prime Minister Odinga to be in the same room at the same time under strained circumstances–a bit of a reprise of the opening of the first session of this 10th Parliament back in 2008. Of course, at that time Odinga was the leader of ODM as the majority party that proceeded to elect the Speaker in during the contested post-election period, whereas he is now Kibaki’s “partner” in the Grand Coalition, and Prime Minister, at least on paper.
PNU stalwarts seek to challenge ODM by moving to change house rules to provide to the President the unilateral power to appoint the leader of government business, with the intent that Kibaki would then appoint VP Kalonzo Musoyka, the erstwhile leader of the ODM-K. See my post with the choice words Kalonzo had for the performance of Kibaki when he was running for the ODM nomination back in the summer of 2007. This will of course raise the question of whether Agriculture Minister Ruto, having been “suspended” by Prime Minister Odinga and “unsuspended” by President Kibaki remains in a meaningful sense aligned with ODM, of which he holds a deputy position, or sides with Kalonzo and Uhuru Kenyatta and others on the PNU side of the “Grand Coaliton”. A move to add to the unilateral powers of the Presidency, in regard to the Parliament, is also an interesting element in terms of what Kenyans might expect in regard to a new constitution.
Parliament is also to take up the matter of finally appointing a new head of the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission in the face of renewed public and diplomatic pressure on corruption.