Kenyan parliament convenes over
06. March 2008
NAIROBI (AFP) - President Mwai Kibaki on Thursday urged Kenyan
deputies to pass laws enshrininge a power-sharing deal aimed at
ending a post-election crisis that cost some 1,500 lives.
Kibaki made the call as he opened the first parliament session
since the new assembly was inaugurated almost two months ago at
the height of political violence and tribal killings.
"I urge honourable members to ensure that all the necessary bills
to implement the accord... are dealt with promptly," Kibaki said.
The opening was preceded by lengthy prayers and two minutes of
silence, one in honour of two opposition MPs murdered since the
start of the year and another for all the victims of the turmoil.
After weeks of mediation led by former UN secretary general Kofi
Annan, Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga -- who charges
that Kibaki rigged his way to re-election in the December polls --
struck a deal on February 28.
The agreement broke the deadlock by granting the opposition the
position of prime minister -- which has yet to be formally created
-- but both sides are still involved in negotiations on issues
such as land reform.
Odinga's Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) won more seats than
Kibaki's Party of National Unity (PNU) in the December elections,
but fell short of an outright majority.
Kibaki listed four bills that have to be passed: the national
accord and reconciliation bill, the constitution of Kenya
amendment bill and two more establishing the truth, justice and
reconciliation commission and another on ethnic issues.
Addressing a group of parliamentarians earlier Thursday, Kibaki
urged them to support to the measure that would see him share
power with his political rival.
"Kenyans are keenly watching. They are keen to see an end to
partisan bickering. They want pragmatic solutions, not ideological
posturing. They want their leaders to place the country above
party and individual interests," Kibaki said.
Alliances with smaller parties by both camps have resulted in an
almost evenly-split parliament, with Odinga's allies dominating by
a narrow margin.
Both sides have pledged to support the legislation.
Security was reinforced in Nairobi ahead of the parliament session,
a key step in ensuring that the agreement is supported by more
than the parties' good will.
Both sides have agreed to set up a committee that will outline
policies for the coalition government to be formed in the coming
days or weeks.
The February 28 accord was received with relief in the usually
stable east African nation, but tough negotiations lie ahead for
both sides as the government line-up remains to be decided.
"Enacting new laws is but a single step in national reconciliation
and healing. The challenge lies in actualising the envisaged legal
and constitional changes," the Daily Nation newspaper said in an
"The reason behind power-sharing is to create checks and balances
and to ensure that no individual or group dominates the management
of the state."
Odinga is expected to take the new position of prime minister, but
both camps are expected to wrangle for the top portfolios over the
coming days and the posts of vice president and deputy prime
If an agreement is reached, the broad cabinet coalition will
replace the government announced by Kibaki days after he was
controversially declared the winner of the presidential vote.