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Kenya Election Probe Set to Begin

Members of an international commission tasked with investigating the conduct of Kenya's disputed December elections have arrived in the country and have been sworn in. Meanwhile, concerns are emerging about how a power-sharing agreement between the country's two main parties will operate. Derek Kilner has more from Nairobi.

The seven-person Independent Review Committee that will examine December's vote is chaired by Johann Kriegler, a former South African judge who headed that country's electoral commission in the mid-1990s.

"Our terms of reference relate to the electoral process, to the legislation, the administration, the execution, the planning of the elections, to find out if anything went wrong," he said. "If so, what went wrong, why it went wrong, and most importantly, how we can avoid it going wrong again in future."

Other members of the commission include an election expert from Argentina, a judge from Tanzania, and four Kenyan lawyers, two picked by President Mwai Kibaki's Party of National Unity and two picked by the Orange Democratic Movement of Raila Odinga, Mr. Kibaki's main challenger in the elections. The commission is to complete its work within three to six months.

Meanwhile, concern has been growing about how the power-sharing arrangement between the two sides will operate. On Tuesday, parliament unanimously approved legislation to create the position of prime minister, to be filled by Mr. Odinga, as well as a cabinet split evenly between the two sides.

But on Wednesday, a leading MP from Mr. Kibaki's party, Danson Mungatana, criticized parliament for hurrying the legislation without settling how the coalition government will work. He highlighted the lack of clarity over how disputes between the parties will be resolved.

Law Society of Kenya council member Evans Monari explained the concern.

"There is no mechanism for resolving disputes," he said. "We don't want that every time we have a problem we have to call Kofi Annan in to help us solve our problems."

Legal experts say, despite the recent legislation enshrining the agreement in law, goodwill is the only thing that can hold the arrangement in place.

Harun Ndubi is director of the organization Haki Focus. Haki is the Swahilli word for Justice.

"There were people who were looking gloomy in parliament, but they had to support the bill because that is what the two men wanted," he explained. "And therefore, it is going to be critical that during this period of transition before we have a new constitution, they must continue showing that goodwill. If they fail to show the goodwill, then it may collapse the power arrangement."

Monari says parliament should be acting now on the important questions of judicial and constitutional reform. He warns that the current goodwill may not survive the envisioned year-long process to implement reform.