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Kenya's Parliament Takes 3-week Break at Opposition's Request


Kenya was once again left waiting, as embattled opposition leader Raila Odinga prepared to lay out his strategy following a boycott of the recent protest-hit elections that handed President Uhuru Kenyatta a landslide win.

Deadlock over the allocation of leadership posts has forced Kenya’s parliament into an unscheduled three-week recess, lawmakers said on Wednesday, indicating a protracted political crisis could reverberate beyond the October election.

Political stalemate has gripped Kenya, East Africa’s most advanced economy and an ally of the West against militant Islam, since the Supreme Court annulled the results of the Aug. 8 presidential elections on procedural grounds and ordered a re-run.

The repeat election was held on Oct. 26 but opposition leader Raila Odinga boycotted the vote, saying it would be unfair. Incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta won a second, five-year term with 98 percent of the vote.

Lawmakers said on Wednesday that Odinga’s opposition coalition wanted more time to negotiate on the distribution of parliamentary leadership posts to its constituent parties.

The National Super Alliance (NASA) coalition has written to the speakers of the national assembly and senate asking to have until the end of November to fill leadership positions in the house, including minority chiefs, whips and committee heads.

“The NASA parliamentary group has asked the speaker to give them until end of the month to put their house in order,” Adan Duale, majority leader in the national assembly, told Reuters via text message, adding parliament would adjourn until Nov. 29.

Parliament runs its business through the Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC) and various committees, which set its calendar and the legislative agenda, approve expenditure and vet key appointments in the executive and the judiciary.

Ayub Savula, an opposition legislator, told Reuters the delays were due to disagreements between NASA’s four main parties — Odinga’s ODM, ANC, Ford Kenya and Wiper — on how to share the available positions.

“Whereas ODM has a majority 70 MPs in the NASA team, the rest of the political parties under NASA feel it is better if the leadership is divided equally,” Savula said.

The delay has angered some, including lawmakers from the ruling Jubilee party.

“We have a fixed term of five years,” said Moses Kuria, a Jubilee member of parliament. “It (the delay) is not a good thing for this country and it is a raw deal for the taxpayers.”

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