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Kenyan Government Asks Opposition to Drop Demands Ahead of Constitutional Talks


Kenya’s government has urged the main opposition Orange Democratic Movement (ODM-Kenya) to drop its conditions ahead of fresh constitutional review talks. This comes as the government team met Monday to agree on a package of minimum reforms. But some leading ODM-Kenya members have rejected the government demands.

Leading member Chris Okemo tells the Voice of America via telephone that all ODM-Kenya wants is for the government to be genuine in its dealings with Kenyans without deception.

“The government position has been that they want a comprehensive constitutional amendment, meaning that they want a complete overhaul of the constitution. And we know that with the time frame left between now and the time that we are going to have general elections, it is not possible to do that,” he said.

Okemo said some changes in the constitution are inevitable.

“There are certain essential reforms that we needs to make to be able to level the playing field for purposes of general elections. And we are saying that those are essential and they must be carried out. Our position has not changed,” Okemo noted.

He said the opposition wants the government to participate in good faith in amending some portions of the constitution.

“All we are saying is that we want the government to be genuine, to have the good will to continue with these talks without taking us round in circles,” he said.

Okemo says he differs from some of the party’s presidential hopefuls, who are calling for the removal of the constitutional affairs minister Martha Karua.

“I do not agree with that kind of thing because I do not think ODM-Kenya is interested in personalities. What we are interested in is that the government comes with the good will to carry out discussions with a view to having those essential reforms. And this is irrespective of whether Martha Karua is there or even the vice president,” he pointed out.

He said although the party accepts government’s efforts of having a dialogue on the minimum reforms, the reforms might be meaningless.

“We accept the government’s gesture for a dialogue. But I think what is more essential is whether that dialogue is going to lead to anything,” he said.

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