Relations between President Kibaki and his predecessor, Mr Daniel arap Moi, on Wednesday degenerated into an old-fashioned, political punch-up.
On Wednesday, Mr Moi responded to Mr Kibaki’s harsh criticism with strong words of his own, accusing Mr Kibaki of promising the country that he would deliver a new constitution in 100 days during the 2002 presidential campaigns and not keeping his word.
Mr Kibaki, therefore, had no moral authority to ask him to keep off the referendum campaigns, Mr Moi charged.
“Kuna wengine waliahidi katiba katika siku mia moja na mpaka sasa bado hiyo katiba haijatimizwa (There are some people who promised to deliver a new constitution within 100 days of getting into office yet that new constitution has not been delivered to date) but are quick to point a finger,” he said while addressing a ‘No’ rally in Wote Town, Makueni.
Mr Moi, who ruled Kenya for 24 years, reminded President Kibaki who served as his vice-president from 1978 to 1988 that it was easy to blame others while forgetting “they had also failed several times.”
Draft defeated in 2005
After it came to power in December 2002, the National Rainbow Coalition government (Narc) started the constitution review process, held a national constitutional conference at Bomas, which wrote a draft constitution.
The process culminated in the 2005 referendum, at which the draft was defeated. Mr Moi, then as now, was a strong campaigner against the proposed constitution.
On Wednesday evening, the President answered Mr Moi, pointing out that his reform credentials did not require any defence.
The tit-and-tat between the two leaders caused disquiet with political and religious leaders asking the two leaders to refrain from fighting in public.
On Tuesday, the President’s irritation with Mr Moi’s tireless campaign against the constitution showed in public for the first time.
He said, without naming Mr Moi, that the retired President was misleading the public and asked him to stop it.
“Wazee wengine wanazunguka wakisema katiba ni mbaya (Some old men are moving around saying the constitution is bad),” he said.
Mr Kibaki said he felt sorry for Mr Moi, whom he said was embarrassing himself with these activities. Mr Moi was in leadership for decades, but failed to deliver the new constitution that the Kenyan people yearned for, the President added.
On Wednesday, religious and political leaders asked the two elder statesmen to stop the public attacks on each other.
Former PCEA moderator Timothy Njoya said President Kibaki should not criticise Mr Moi because of his personal preference.
Bishop Beneah Salala of ACK Mumias diocese said Mr Moi should be the last person to attack President Kibaki.
Additional story by Oliver Mathenge