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Kenyan Political Rivals Form Coalition Government


Rival political leaders in Kenya have agreed to share power. Kenyan president Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga signed a deal Thursday in Nairobi. The power-sharing agreement brokered by former United Nations Chief Kofi Annan paves the way for opposition leader Raila Odinga to become Prime Minister.

David Ohito, a senior political reporter for The Standard newspaper, told VOA English to Africa reporter Douglas Mpuga that President Kibaki might have changed his position and agreed to a power sharing deal because of international pressure. “For sure he [Mwai Kibaki] had very limited options," said Ohito. "The international pressure continued piling day by day. Yesterday there was a new dimension to the negotiations when the international community warned that the military might intervene if there was no agreement.”

Ohito was optimistic the Kenyan parliament will ratify the provisions of the agreement. He said, “Even the PNU members of parliament want peace, and in any case the ODM have a majority in parliament. A simple majority in parliament is what is required in this agreement.”

He said there are fears, however, that even if parliament passes the amendment, the law requires the president to sign it into law. “But, even if that happens, the speaker can cause a vote whereby a two-thirds majority would override the president and pass the amendment into law,” he added.

Ohito explained that according to the agreement, for Raila Odinga to become prime minister, he has to be elected by members of parliament, and can only be removed from office by parliament through a vote of no confidence.

He said Kenya has always had a problem because the constitution vested too much power in the presidency. “If we have an executive prime minister and a president with reduced powers, there will be harmony between the two offices," he said, adding, “Kenya’s problems are also historical, dating back to the colonial era. What is needed is political reforms. While [president] Kibaki believes in the status quo, his rival Odinga [ODM leader] is a reformist."

Ohito also said that the agreement stipulated that the coalition would last through the life of this parliament in 2012. “Of course,should one partner of the coalition pull out, then that also ends the coalition," he said.

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