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Kenya's Opposition Says Power Sharing the Way Forward


As Kenyans await the arrival of U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice Monday, an official of the opposition Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) has given more details on what would constitute a possible solution to the country’s post-election crisis. ODM secretary general Peter Anyang Nyong’o said the opposition hopes Secretary Rice is coming to Kenya to re-enforce former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan’s mediation effort and President Bush’s call for a power sharing government.

Nyong’o told VOA that only a power sharing government can produce a needed political stability for Kenya.

“Given what President Bush himself has said, I think she is coming to re-enforce the Kofi Annan initiative to ensure that there’s a political solution that will finally bring justice and peace to our country. And that solution has to include power sharing in a coalition government in which the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) being led by Raila Odinga and the Party of National Unity (PNU) of Mwai Kibaki will share power and produce political stability for the nation,” he said.

Nyong’o said whether President Kibaki remains head of state of Kenya during this power sharing period would depend on what formula is used.

“He could still be head of state and commander-in-chief of the armed forces and perhaps in charge of foreign affairs as is in the case in France between the president and prime minister of France. The prime minister will then head the government and chair the government. I think that kind of arrangement is something that is being considered. And do hope that the secretary of state would lend support to the principle of a political settlement for the grand coalition, and then the details can be left for Kofi Annan and his team to work out,” Nyong’o said.

He rejected Kenyan Foreign Minister Moses Wetangula’s warning of outsiders forcing a deal on Kenya.

“Nobody is interested in forcing anything on Kenya. This constitution that is in place now has been contentious for many years. The multiparty era started in 1992. We had called for radical constitution change. The authoritarian presidency had remained in tact and got Mwai Kibaki. And I do believe that the foreign minister does not think that the authoritarian presidency is an answer to Kenya’s problems. So saying that things must be done within the framework of the present constitution is actually dragging that debate backward,” he said.

Nyong’o said all of Africa must draw a lesson from what is happening in Kenya.

“The lesson that can be drawn is that people must understand there has been lot of changes in Africa for the last 40 years since independence. Those changes are demographic; those changes are based on the social structures of our countries. And unless government structures respond creatively and imaginatively to these changes by allowing greater political participation, transparency, and accountability in government, then of course Africa will not move forward. I think the example in Kenya is something that should be a lesson to many African countries to understand the complexities of democracy and yet its vitality and necessity,” Nyong’o said.

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