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Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Pressure mounts on Kimunya to quit

A parliamentary committee will lobby MPs to frustrate a constitutional requirement on the Budget unless the embattled Finance minister, Mr Amos Kimunya, steps aside or is sacked by President Kibaki.

The chairman of the parliamentary committee on fiscal analysis and appropriation, Mr Martin Otieno Ogindo, said Mr Kimunya should read the signs on the wall and avoid being humiliated again by members, after last week’s motion of censure and of no-confidence in him was passed overwhelmingly. Parliament is set to start scrutinising the Budget by the ministry in what is referred to as committee of supplies, which is the last phase of the budget-making process. If they don’t approve the Budget, the Government cannot effect the new tax measures announced in the 2008/2009 budget last month.

On Monday, Mr Ogindo, who is the Rangwe MP, said while addressing the press at Parliament Buildings: “It is now more urgent than ever for Mr Kimunya to step aside because Parliament will not transact any business on the Budget, in particular the committee of supplies, until he steps aside or is sacked.” The MP said his 10-member committee had met last week and resolved to ask Mr Kimunya to respect the motion of censure and of no-confidence and act accordingly. Elsewhere, the Public Accounts Committee chairman, Dr Bonny Khalwale, said parliamentarians will continue to press for the removal of the Finance minister even if the President does not sack him. He said the President would set a dangerous precedent if he failed to act against Mr Kimunya after Parliament passed a no-confidence motion against him. Dr Khalwale said the President should demonstrate his respect for separation of powers and sack Mr Kimunya in line with MPs’ rejection of the minister.

Meanwhile, religious leaders and civil society groups from Mumias continued to call for Mr Kimunya’s resignation. The Anglican Church of Kenya Mumias diocese bishop Beneah Salala and Support Activities in Poverty Eradication and Health director Justine Mutobera called on the two principals President Kibaki and Mr Raila Odinga to act.

In Nairobi, Name and Shame Corruption Networks lobby group is threatening to mobilise Kenyans to take to the streets countrywide, beginning Tuesday in what they are calling “duty to directly exercise their sovereign authority and evict Mr Amos Kimunya from office.” Group coordinator Geoffrey Birundu said they will not relent until Mr Kimunya is sacked or steps down. “The President continues to bury his head in the sand in spite of the fact that within the said seven days, the following grave developments that don’t bode well for the future of the country have taken place,” the statement read in part.

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