Mwai Kibaki has agreed to share power… under the country’s current constitution and pledged a new constitution within 12 months, signaling a hardening of positions on opposition demand for the post of PM with executive powers.
The opposition Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) has insisted on the post of a powerful Prime Minister and equal number of government posts as part of a deal to end the post-election political deadlock.
Kibaki, who had previously opposed this demand, now says he is ready to share power. Speaking at a meeting with Kofi Annan, the former UN Secretary-General, President Kibaki insisted that a political deal to end the crisis must be within the framework of the current constitution.
This essentially means the position of the executive Prime Minister might not be agreeable to the government side, which insists that such an arrangement might require a referendum.
The President, however, cautioned that any political solution that will be proposed must be in tandem with the current Kenyan constitution. “President Kibaki noted that the constitution must serve as a guide while the mediation team discussed what legal and institutional reforms are needed to move the country forward,” a statement from the President’s office said.
President Kibaki is under American pressure to agree to an arrangement of real power-sharing with the opposition.
The opposition has welcomed the American statement, saying it was the only way out of the current political impasse.
President Kibaki said he would back an accord only if it was within the current constitution.
“The government is, however, fully supportive of a comprehensive review of the constitution within 12 months, as a correct platform to systematically address th e challenges that face the country,” the president’s office said.
The Annan-led talks are still continuing but it is clear a comprehensive political deal might not be reached soon. The team of negotiators from the opposition and the government side have agreed to form a sub-committee headed by a Swedish judge, Hans Corell, to look into the governance structure.
Within Constitutional Confines
President Kibaki pointed out that the current negotiations had reached a critical stage and gave his assurance to Kenyans that he would follow through the remaining stages.
Meanwhile, Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetangula has supported the government ‘s position that no deal would be reached that compromises the current constitution. “I do not know what it means to be called a hardliner, but if it means opposing anything outside the current constitution, then I am one. We must act within the constitution,” Wetengula said.