Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta and Eldoret North MP William Ruto are reportedly planning a censure motion against Justice minister Mutula Kilonzo.
Uhuru, Ruto and MPs allied to them held a meeting on Tuesday night in Nairobi to discuss this as well as a prayer meeting scheduled for Nyahururu this weekend. The two lawmakers and their supporters are this morning scheduled to hold a meeting at the Sagret Hotel in Nairobi to decide who among the MPs will notify the Speaker and the House of their intentions.
The decision to censure Mutula arises from his insistence that Uhuru should quit as the Deputy Prime Minister. Mutula has also insisted that Uhuru and Ruto should not be allowed to run for the presidency until they are cleared of the crimes against humanity charges they are facing at the International Criminal Court.
Apart from Uhuru and Ruto, the others accused are former Head of Public Service Francis Muthaura and radio journalist Joshua arap Sang. Mutula's utterances have raised suspicion in the Uhuru-Ruto camp who say the minister is the mouthpiece of Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka's Wiper Democratic Party (formerly ODM-K). Kalonzo has come under increasing pressure from MPs allied to Uhuru and Ruto to discipline Mutula for the utterances.
Last Sunday during a prayer meeting in Machakos, Kalonzo did not give any indication that he would take action against Mutula, whom they accuse of dampening the nascent political alliance between the three. Some of the MPs at the Tuesday night meeting said they agreed they would not invite Kalonzo to the Nyahururu meeting this weekend or any future meetings until he disciplines Mutula.
Yesterday, the ODM came to Mutula's defence and said they would lobby MPs to defeat the proposed censure motion. ODM secretary general Anyang' Nyong'o condemned "renewed efforts by some desperate politicians" to remove Mutula from office through a censure motion "so that they can undermine the constitution at will".
Nyong'o said the planned censure motion against the minister is "a blatant abuse of Parliament's authority over the executive to achieve highly partisan, self-serving and vengeful goal." "These politicians have stooped very low indeed to target a minister whose position on the issues under discussion are among the most resonant with Kenyans today," Nyong'o said.
He said Mutula's record at the ministry has been consistent "from the very beginning on these issues". He said Mutula was giving his views based on the understanding of the law and described him as "one of the most independent voices in the Cabinet". "The fact that he has taken a position different from that of his party leader on the ICC issue and the fact that he himself is not a candidate for the presidency demands that all pay the fullest attention to his interpretation of constitutional principles as a minister and as senior counsel," Nyong'o said.
He said that while the ODM had in the past had disagreements with Mutula, "these were never personal nor did they ever lead to the vindictive plots we are now witnessing." Nyong'o appealed to the reformers within the PNU coalition to restrain their colleagues who are behind the Mutula plot "and other attempts to divide Kenyans." Roads assistant minister Lee Kinyanjui on Monday said he and a group of "like-minded MPs" were strategising to get the outspoken minister kicked out of his Cabinet docket.
Meanwhile, Kangundo MP Johnstone Muthama yesterday accused the Daily Nation of putting words in his mouth and threatened to sue the newspaper. Muthama denied reports that he told the crowd in Machakos rally on Sunday that Kalonzo stands to benefit politically from ICC cases against Uhuru and Ruto if they lose their appeal to have the charges dropped. "What I said on Sunday is a slogan I have used even before I joined Parliament," he said.
The MP said he spoke in his Kamba dialect at the rally, and the translation published was wrong. Muthama told journalists there is no link between the words he uttered and Kalonzo's presidential bid and read mischief in the translation published. "The words quoted in the newspaper are not mine and I have instructed my lawyers to ask the Nation to apologise or we meet in the court," he said.