Kenya: ODM wants PM’s post with executive powers, PNU says no

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Although hopes are rising that the Kenyan post-polls crisis will soon be resolved by the African Union (AU) and the UN-backed mediation panel, the two parties involved appeared far from being ready to restore peace to the East African nation if signals emanating from their camps are anything to go by.

The mediating panel, led by former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan, said at an informal meeting with newly-elected members of parliament (MPs) that it had reco mmended the formation of a transitional coalition government pending fresh polls .

Annan said a political solution was imperative in putting to test the “difficu lt and complex” post-election crisis that has divided the country along ethnic l i nes, and expressed optimism that a mechanism to arrive at a permanent solution w o uld be arrived at this week – possibly in less than 72 hours.

However, talks between the opposition Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) and Pre sident Mwai Kibaki’s Party of National Unity (PNU) appeared to hit tougher terri t ory with both sides continuing to harden their positions on what should be the p o wer-shearing deal.

ODM negotiators presented a proposal seeking the division of the constitutiona l roles of the president and sought the creation of the post of prime minister w i th executive powers to run the government while the president should remain a me r e head of state.

ODM is also seeking that elections should be held after two years after all th e required legal and constitutional reforms have been undertaken.

The PNU negotiators opposed the creation of the executive premier, saying the post will be created but without any executive powers.

Kenya’s current constitution gives all executive powers to the president who i s also the head of state and government.

Efforts to create the distinction under a proposed constitution agreement at a forum in March 2004, known as “Bomas” – venue of the constitutional talks – fai l ed at a referendum in November 2005 when the opposition successfully campaigned f or its defeat.

Annan had announced that the talks had progressed well and a political deal to end the post-election bloodshed and torching of houses which has killed 1,000 p e ople and displaced 300,000 was in the offing.

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