Kenya’s parliament meets, power-sharing deal likely

March 6th, 2008 - 8:54 pm ICT by admin  

Nairobi, March 6 (DPA) Kenya’s parliament re-opened Thursday with a bid to see through legal changes that would allow setting up of a coalition government, seen as the best way to bring about reforms to address the root causes of the conflict that left more than 1,000 dead. The atmosphere in the house was more congenial than the first sitting mid-January, at the height of the conflict, when shouting matches broke out over the legitimacy of the election of the house speaker.

President Mwai Kibaki inspected the air force upon his arrival to parliament, which allowed for open seating in a sign of conviviality among the once warring parties.

“It will go down in the annals of parliamentary history,” Vice- President Kalonzo Musyoka told local station KTN ahead of the opening.

Kibaki and prime minister-designate Raila Odinga, who fell out over December’s polls, met their party’s legislators ahead of the opening and urged them to see through the necessary constitutional changes to allow the power-sharing to proceed.

Kenyans were relieved when Odinga and Kibaki signed the agreement last week, but the country remains volatile, with residents eager to see the promises of reform fulfilled.

“Unity of purpose among MPs is vital if we are to realize the legal and institutional reforms that this country badly needs,” the independent Daily Nation newspaper wrote in an editorial.

The ethnic violence that displaced more than 300,000 people was touched off by the flawed polls, but the heart of the conflict lies in a feeling of marginalization and resentment against Kibaki’s Kikuyu tribe, which has held the levers of power in Kenya since independence from Britain in 1963.

The power-sharing deal brokered by former United Nations secretary-general Kofi Annan is set to create the post of a prime minister and split cabinet positions between Odinga and Kibaki’s parties.

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