12 June 2004

Kenya: Oniang'o: It's Risky to Kick Out Raila Men


Nairobi — QUESTION: What is your view of the accusation that LDP has been sabotaging the government?

PROF RUTH ONIANGO: LDP must be feeling frustrated, as there was an MoU which cannot be wished away.

We would like to see both sides acknowledge this and maybe sit down and come to a different agreement.

Do you think they should quit the coalition?

That would be a tragedy; if any of the major coalition members leave, it means we do not have a government of the majority.

I also have a feeling that Kibaki is not the type to axe people for simply failing to toe the line and so I really do not expect it to happen.

What is the Kanu/LDP alliance up to?

There is no official alliance between these two, but I agree that Uhuru (Kenyatta, Kanu's acting chairman) visited flood areas whose leadership is LDP.

The crowds in those areas received him very well as they would any saviour coming to their aid, but that is separate from politics.

However, as the leader of the opposition, he would like to make a kill, and an opportunity had presented itself.

Unofficially when we (MPs) are out of the Chambers, you cannot tell who belongs to what party; out here we are the best of friends.

Prof Yash Pal Ghai has been accused in some quarters of attacking the President; would you agree?

What attack? That is democracy. Has anybody asked the President whether he feels personally attacked?

I do not think the Kibaki I have seen would take that personally. I remember when Kibaki was in Western Kenya, people made noise as they tried to make their point; he just told them to ventilate and then settle down.

When Ghai was writing that letter, he knew who Kibaki is and that he could take it; it is others who are trying to be defensive.

We may not have used the same words against Kibaki as Ghai, but many of us have said the same thing and Kibaki has taken it.

But what do you generally make of Ghai's position?

Again, it was out of frustration; when you look at how much time has gone into the review process and what Ghai has gone through, you would appreciate how a woman who has carried a pregnancy through would feel if you threatened to kill the baby.

But Ghai has been accused of fronting for Raila Odinga.

I was in the steering committee and Raila and Ghai were also there and there were many times that they did not agree and I believe it is difficult to sway Ghai into the wrong position.

It would be very difficult for the Ghai I saw to become partisan.

I think he wants to stay above that, he wants to play free and fair and as a country, we should feel extremely blessed to have somebody like that.

I do not know who else would have taken that middle ground and did what Ghai did.

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