Home | News    Friday 27 August 2004

Kenyan Kalonzo removed from Somali and Soudanese peace talks role

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By David Mugonyi

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Kalonzo Musyoka

NAIROBI, Aug 27, 2004 (The Nation) — Environment minister Kalonzo Musyoka has been quietly removed as chairman of the Somali and Sudan peace talks.

The move was being seen last night as a further weakening of the Liberal Democratic Party’s power within the government.

His replacement is the Kanu MP and East African Cooperation minister John Koech, who took over last week.

The latest move comes after a series of losses the LDP has suffered in the Coalition including what is being seen as the party’s isolation in Parliament by the National Alliance (Party) of Kenya

Mr Kalonzo reportedly received a letter from Secretary to the Cabinet and Head of Civil Service Francis Muthaura telling him to relinquish his duties with immediate effect.

Sources said his removal had caused an international ripple of dismay, with some IGAD partners like Djibouti threatening to boycott last Sunday’s swearing-in of Somali MPs.

United Nations secretary-general Kofi Annan, commending Mr Musyoka’s work on Sudan during his last visit to Kenya, expressed the hope that he would continue to steer the Somalia talks.

A determined behind-the-scene campaign is understood to have been launched to reverse the removal of Mr Kalonzo. Parties in the Somalia talks expressed concern that Mr Koech’s appointment would cause a fresh delay as he had to familiarise himself with the different groups and issues.

Mr Koech was one of the Kanu ministers brought into government in the June 30 Cabinet reshuffle in which Mr Musyoka lost the post of Foreign Minister to Mr Ali Mwakwere and the LDP appeared to lose its influence in government.

Contacted last night, Mr Koech declined to comment and only asserted that the peace talks were now under his Ministry.

The peace talks are known to have been close to Mr Musyoka’s heart. He continued handling the negotiations even after he was moved to the Environment docket.

The change was being seen last night as the latest in a series of reverses for the Liberal Democratic Party wing of the Government in its struggle with NAK, which it accuses of reneging on the pre-election pact which set up the National Rainbow Coalition.

In the reshuffle, LDP’s leading lights were either moved to less important ministries or saw their own ministries made smaller. One was Mr Raila Odinga’s Ministry, which lost the Housing docket and was left with Roads and Public Works.

Yesterday official of the secretariat of the Inter Governmental Authority for Development (IGAD), which co-ordinates the talks, said: "Mr Musyoka is no longer in charge of the peace processes. He has been removed from being a leading negotiator."

While touring Kenya two months ago, UN secretary General Kofi Annan asked the Government to allow Mr Musyoka to handle the docket to ensure continuity.

The Environment minister had chaired the talks since the days that he was Foreign Affairs minister in the Moi government, before taking the same job under the new Narc regime.

Mr Koech presided over his first assignment on Sunday, during the swearing in of a Somali transitional Parliament at the United Nations headquarters in Gigiri, Nairobi.

The decision to remove Mr Musyoka from the negotiations came just as LDP was smarting from a string of setbacks.

Its MPs were kicked out of key committees in Parliament, which included the two watchdog Public Accounts and Public Investments Committees. Others were the Speaker’s, Standing Orders, Powers and Privileges and the Catering committees.

LDP MPs Sospeter Ojaamong’ and Stephen Ondiek were replaced in the PAC while Otieno Kajwang’, Gor Sunguh and Sammy Weya were removed from Public Investments Committee.

However, at a recent retreat in Mombasa, Mr Musyoka revisited the issue and said the removal of the MPs from committees had not been sanctioned by the House Business Committee - the supreme body which decides among other things the composition of committees.

Mr Musyoka and party stalwarts Mr Odinga, chairman Mr David Musila and spokesman Joseph Kamotho demanded reinstatement of the MPs

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