Foreign envoys Wednesday stepped up a series of talks aimed at breaking the current stalemate in Kenya over the formation of the grand cabinet.
Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka and President Mwai Kibaki held separate talks with ambassadors and high commissioners accredited to Kenya from Europe and North America.
Musyoka briefed the envoys on the progress of the negotiations and consultations towards the formation of a grand coalition government.
He assured them of Kibaki’s commitment to form the coalition government as soon as the consultations with the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader Raila Odinga are completed.
Musyoka also told the diplomats that it was imperative that the ODM leader conta cts the president urgently, for the two to conclude the consultations and announce a cabinet that is acceptable to all Kenyans.
The bone of contention is the equitable sharing out of key ministries – local government, energy, foreign affairs and transport.
The ODM, led by prime minister (designate), Raila Odinga, argue that the Kibaki side has taken key ministries, leaving ‘peripherial’ ministries to the opposition .
The foreign envoys raised their concern on the delay in naming the cabinet, saying it was hindering the solution to other problems like the resettlement of internally displaced persons and the reconstruction of the country.
The meetings took place as the United States told Kenyan leaders to name a coalition cabinet urgently as tension rose in parts of the country due to a stalemate between Odinga and Kibaki.
In a statement from the US embassy in Nairobi, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said it was important that the two leaders form a coalition government and address “the important work of the nation”.
She promised that her government and the international community were ready to a ssist the coalition government to ensure that the accord signed between the two was respected.
“Should the accord not be implemented, the US will form its own judgements regarding responsibility for the lack of implementation of the accord and act accordingly,” she warned.
Rice, who spoke to the two leaders separately two days ago on telephone, said they emphasized their “strong commitment” to resolve their differences and name th e coalition cabinet.
There is renewed tension in parts of the country following Tuesday’s collapse of coalition talks between Kibaki’s Party of National Unity and Odinga’s ODM.
The two parties have disagreed on how to share cabinet positions as required by the peace deal signed by their two leaders 28 February and later unanimously passed into law by parliament.
The peace talks, an initiative of the African Union, was chaired by former United Nations secretary-general, Kofi Annan.