News 2008

 

Kenyan president urges MPs to back power-sharing deal



GUARDIAN

Matthew Weaver & agencies

Thursday March 06 2008



The Kenyan president, Mwai Kibaki, urged MPs from all sides to back a power-sharing deal in the country's parliament today, aimed at ending weeks of violence since his disputed re-election.

The pact involves Kibaki continuing as president but serving alongside his rival, Raila Odinga, who will become prime minister

Parliament will have to pass the laws necessary to enforce the power-sharing agreement, which was reached last Thursday after talks led by the former UN secretary general Kofi Annan.

Kenya's MPs will vote on the deal later today after the parliament is convened by Kibaki.

In a speech before the session Kibaki said the vote was a political "turning point".

"I appeal to you all to be guided by a strong sense of national unity, which must override all partisan considerations," Reuters quoted him saying.

He added: "I urge all honourable members to support the proposed legislative measures which will go a long way in ensuring peace and stability in our country.

"The launch of this grand coalition is a clear signal that although loud debates may attract a lot of attention, we can achieve a lot together through quiet dialogue."

Up to 1,200 people have been killed in unrest since the presidential election in December, which the opposition claimed was rigged. Among the dead were 2 MPs.

The speaker of the new parliament, Kenneth Marende, who is from the opposition Orange Democratic Movement, also called for support for the deal.

Speaking to Kenya's Daily Nation newspaper, he said: "I expect the honourable member will rise to the occasion and enact the laws that will return this country to the path of peace, stability and progress. They cannot fail millions of Kenyans who are looking unto them with a lot of expectations."

Both the opposition ODM and Kibaki's Party of National Unity say they back the deal. But crucial details have yet to be worked out, including who will chair cabinet meetings and which party will get key ministerial posts.

Meanwhile, the Kenyan government has dismissed as "preposterous" claims by the BBC that meetings between officials and a banned militia group were held at Kibaki's official residences.

It is latest in a series of allegations that some of the post-election violence was orchestrated by politicians of both sides.

 

 

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