Raila offer to mediate EAC row rejected


President Uhuru Kenyatta has rejected an offer by former Prime Minister Raila Odinga to help resolve the controversy threatening to break up the East African Community.

State House spokesman Manoah Esipisu said Kenya’s bilateral relationship with Tanzania was “in good shape,” and there was no need for a mediator.

“There have been some voices for mediation but the very crystal clear point is that there is no dispute to mediate,” said Esipisu during a media briefing at State House.

Last week, Raila appealed to presidents Kenyatta, Yoweri Museveni (Uganda), Jakaya Kikwete (Tanzania) and Paul Kagame (Rwanda) to urgently pick a panel of statesmen from the EAC region to resolve the controversy that has seen Tanzania threaten to pull out of the political and economic bloc. Raila said he was ready to sit on the panel if he was picked by President Kenyatta.

Esipisu however explained that there was no need for such a mediator. He said President Kenyatta had held in Johannesburg last week, held a one-on-one meeting with Kikwete where they discussed bilateral relations and the East African integration agenda.

He said Foreign Affairs Secretary Amina Mohammed subsequently met with the Tanzania Foreign Minister Bernard Membe to follow up on the issues agreed upon by the two heads of state.

Esipisu said discussions were ongoing to ensure closer collaboration between EAC and IGAD and to ensure a solid eastern and Horn of Africa bloc.

At the same time, Esipisu said Uhuru had expressed his intention to meet with both the Speaker of the National Assembly Justin Muturi and Chief Justice Willy Mutunga to end the parliamentary and judiciary wars.

Esipisu said that although the executive, judiciary and Parliament operated independently, the President was the unifying symbol of the state and the nation.

Parliament and Judiciary have locked horns after the National Assembly passed a motion asking the President to establish a tribunal to investigate the conduct of six Judicial Service Commission members.

Esipisu said the issue of the tribunal will be discussed during the meeting between the heads of the three arms of government. “President Kenyatta will urge the Chief Justice and the House Speaker to embrace the need for restraint and deliberate approach to problem-solving at the meeting,” said Esipisu.

He said the president is of the opinion that in fulfilling its constitutional obligations, the National Assembly should act “with a level of restraint.” At the same time, the President has said he is waiting to be officially handed the controversial media bill before he returns it to Parliament for review.

Esipisu said the President has already informally received the controversial Kenya Information and Communications (Amendment) Bill and is now waiting for the formal presentation to his office.

He said Uhuru has been discussing the contents of the bill with his legal and media advisors as well as some of the media stakeholders. “Even as the Bill makes its way to the President through the formal laid-out channels, I can confirm that the President will return the Bill to Parliament asking that Parliament ensures the Bill conforms with the mandatory parameters of Article 24 of the Constitution,” said Esipisu.

– the-star

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