In Kenya, talks between the government and the opposition Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) have reportedly hit a stalemate over disagreement about power sharing. This comes after embattled President Mwai Kibaki’s government rejected calls by United States Secretary of state Condoleezza Rice and talks mediator Kofi Annan to allow for a power-sharing deal or a grand coalition. The opposition is demanding a 50:50 arrangement, with ODM leader Raila Odinga as prime minister, followed by fresh elections in two years. But the government dismissed the opposition demands as untenable. Koigi Wamwere is Kenya’s former deputy information minister. He tells reporter Peter Clottey from the capital, Nairobi that Kenyans want the political crisis resolved.
“I think what is going on is that the mediators together with our opposition have suggested a grand coalition as solutions to our immediate problem. The opposition is asking that it be given the position of an executive prime minister and that the president should not exercise such powers, and that they should be able to share government ministry, and other appointments on 50:50 basis. Now, the government found these unacceptable, they are not entirely opposed to the opposition in the government, but on the president’s terms. And they completely refuse that the president should not finish his term of five years of exercise executive power. And I think this is where the problem is,” Wamwere noted.
He concurs that the government’s entrenched position would not help with the attempt to find a lasting solution to the ongoing post-election political crisis.
“Probably, it does not, but my own position has been if Kofi Annan and the international community are convinced that the elections were so badly flawed that they don’t allow the president’s legitimacy, it becomes difficult to ask that the same flawed elections should lend legitimacy to the leader of the opposition, and have, him as a result, given a position of a prime minister,” he said.
Wamwere said although Kenyans want a quick resolution to the crisis, there was need for a holistic approach to the resolution of the political crisis.
“It is true that we want a resolution. A quick resolution of the current crisis, but we have also to realize that these are the kinds of talks that should not be rushed because they are trying to solve problems that have been accumulating over decades, and what has taken years to build up cannot be solved overnight unless somebody is not serious. Equally, we have to be very careful not to allow our friends from outside Kenya to be seen to be imposing some kind of solution to our current problems.
Meanwhile, Kibaki’s office said the government is willing to work with the opposition ODM to share responsibilities in government, but said any solution must be in accordance with the country’s current constitution.