Another round of mass demonstrations looms in Kenya in what the opposition calls “civil disobedience” as talks to end the post-election crisis hits the wall…
Kenyan political parties resumed talks Monday in a fresh bid to conclude a political accord needed to end the East African country’s post-election crisis, which has left at least 1,500 people dead and 300,000 people displaced, — in latest police estimate, bbc – stalling economic activities across East Africa.
Kofi Annan, the former UN Secretary General who is leading the talks was forced to intervene Monday. Mr. Annan had hinted, last week, on the possibility of a deal this week, following a slight disappointment in last week’s outcome, “I remind the negotiators of the urgency of our work and the high expectations of the people of Kenya, the region and the world. Many thought the white smoke would emerge from the discussions today,”
President Mwai Kibaki dropped his hardline stance on the talks and urged his negotiators to seek an urgent deal to end the impasse over the weekend as his rival Raila Odinga returned from a weekend trip to Nigeria, where he denied seeking diplomatic aid.
The opposition warned last week it would move on with the mass protests this week, effective Wednesday if President Kibaki fails to convene parliament this week to begin work on constitutional changes.
The Kenya talks have been deadlocked on how the post of a Prime Minister would be entrenched into the constitution, whether through an amendment of the constitution or through an act of parliament, which would make it easier to repeal.
The opposition is demanding that the government side agrees to have the position entrenched through a change of the constitution but the Kibaki side demands that the post be entrenched through an act of parliament.
It requires two thirds of parliamentarians to make a constitutional change, approximately 145 members, but the opposition Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) has muscled 107 members.
The opposition is seeking to create the post of a Prime Minister who cannot be sacked by the President but can be sacked by more than half of the parliamentarians.
ODM lawmakers have demanded that the party gets the post of Prime Minister (PM) with authority to take full charge of government affairs although a governance structure hammered out after talks chaired Swedish judge Hans Corell agreed to assign the role of coordinator to the PM, a proposal which was initially welcomed by the opposition negotiators.
William Ruto, one of the key negotiators for ODM, said the talks were progressing well but decried their slow pace. “I wish we will never have to go through such processes in future. These are issues which should have been resolved ages back,” he said.
There are also concerns over the concentration of executive powers in the office of the President, who wields massive powers in the appointments in government.