REFERENDUM DEBATE

Muthaura: Best poll loser should become Prime Minister

He said an all-inclusive government is a panacea for Kenya’s ethnic division, citing the 2013 and 2017 polarised polls

In Summary

• Former Head of Public Service wants candidate with the highest number of votes to be sworn in as the president who will immediately appoint the second candidate as prime minister.

• Wants presidential and Parliamentary elections to be held on separate days. 

Former Head of Public Service Francis Muthaura, an insider in President Uhuru Kenyatta’s administration, wants reintroduction of the Office of Prime Minister.

In his surprise memorandum to the handshake team on Thursday — officially known as the Building Bridges Initiative — Muthaura called for the expansion of the executive to guarantee “an all-inclusive government”.

“The primary objective of the review would be to ensure that the leadership of the national government is all inclusive as a permanent guarantee for national cohesion and unity,” Muthaura said.

He told the BBI session at the ICC that said an all-inclusive government is a panacea for Kenya’s ethnic divisions, citing the 2013 and 2017 polarised polls.

"In 2007 William Ruto was with Raila Odinga in ODM fighting President Mwai Kibaki and Uhuru Kenyatta.

"In 2013, Ruto teamed up with Kenyatta against Raila Yet now Raila is working closely with Kenyatta. It shows you that we can achieve lasting peace and national cohesion if we accommodate many people in the executive," he said.  

Although he has been out of the limelight, Muthaura, the chairman of KRA, is known to be close to the powers that be and his proposal is significant and considered a reflection of their thinking. 

People close to to the former powerful civil servant yesterday told the Star that Muthaura consulted widely and the views he presented were not his alone.

"He lifted the lid on the thinking of some powerful people," an aide said.

Muthaura, who was the defacto Prime Minister in President Kibaki’s administration, was charged with Uhuru at the ICC with crimes against humanity. The charges were dropped.

Muthaura said Raila’s supporters who swore him in as the People’s President constituted at least 40 per cent of the population, which he called a big threat to cohesion and security.

“When ethnic conflicts are left unattended for a long time, they end up as a disaster,” Muthaura said.

The KRA boss said that after the presidential elections are declared, the winner and the candidate with the second highest number of votes will team up and form a government of national unity.

He explained that the candidate with the highest number of votes would be sworn in as the President who would immediately appoint the second candidate as Prime Minister.

“They will share the Cabinet posts and other state offices proportionate to the number of votes they won,” Muthaura told the team, headed by Garissa Senator Yusuf Haji.

Under the arrangement, the President will appoint members of the Cabinet. The Prime Minister will recommend his nominees for appointment by the head of state.

Muthaura said the office of the deputy president should remain to deputise the president on State matters and for succession, in the event that the head of state is incapacitated or the position falls vacant before the end of the term.

He suggested that the President should chair the Cabinet and have the power to remove any minister except the Prime Minister.

He added that the Prime Minister will coordinate government functions under the executive authority of the President.

“The Prime Minister will chair the Cabinet committee meetings and will also coordinate government functions under the executive authority of the president,” he said.

In Parliament, the president’s party will provide the leader of government business with the PM’s party nominating his/her deputy.

“Parliament, therefore, will be more consultative rather than confrontational while at the same time providing an effective check on the government,” he proposed

Muthaura, who also served as Kibaki’s secretary to the Cabinet, said that if the system is adopted, the manifestos of the President and that of the PM should be merged within the first five months.

This would ensure the government is run on the basis of one policy framework.

Ironically, during the Grand Coalition Government, Muthaura was often accused by ODM of being among a coterie of Kibaki’s hardliners that frustrated then-Prime Minister Raila Odinga.

At the ICC, he was accused of leading secret meetings in Kibaki's office, where revenge attacks against ODM supporters were planned.

There has been suspicion that top government officials allied to President Kenyatta are secretly pushing for the expansion of the executive.

Deputy President William Ruto is fiercely opposed to the move, seen as Raila’s idea.

Yesterday, the National Police Service Commission reiterated Muthaura’s sentiments that election losers need to be accommodated in government in one way or another.

“Losers should be accommodated in a way, especially those from the main ethnic blocs,” NPSC chair Eliud Kinuthia said in his memorandum to the BBI task force.

The County Assemblies Forum (CAF) said any amendments to the Constitution should work in favour of devolution.

In its memorandum to the BBI task force, CAF said the oversight role by county assembly members should be strengthened.

 “The Senate is taking over the role of county assemblies. County assemblies should be the first point of oversight, then the matter is elevated up,” the coordinating body of the 47 county assemblies said.

Acting Registrar of Political Parties Ann Nderitu recommended that political parties that do not present candidates in two consecutive elections should be de-registered.

Nderitu said the law should be amended to do away with parties that are dormant for a long period of time.

“It should be automatic. If a party does not present candidates for elections for two consecutive elections, then it should cease to exist. There is no need for such parties because parties are there for elections,” she said.

She, however, was not clear on whether it is the presidential, parliamentary, gubernatorial or senatorial elections parties should participate in order to be recognised.

She told the task force, which was formed to recommend solutions to hostilities that emerge during the electioneering period, that the law should make it easy to do away with parties that have no plans and ambitions.

“Parties are there to participate in elections. If they don’t want to participate in elections, then they should not exist,” she added.

Nderitusaid any amendment to the Constitution should significantly reflect the wishes of women and people living with disabilities. “We cannot ignore the wishes of women, who make more than50 per cent of the population and people living with disability, who are about 3.6 per cent of the population,” she said