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What is the solution to Kenya’s political gridlock?
Implementation of Kenya’s peace accord brokered by former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan in February to end post-election bloodshed has hit a logjam over power sharing. The accord provided for power sharing based on a political party’s relative strength in parliament. President Mwai Kibaki’s Party of National Unity (PNU) and opposition leader Raila Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) both said in the first week of April that they had agreed on how to share 40 ministerial positions. But bickering started immediately. Both sides have traded accusations: the ODM said Kibaki’s side had reneged on a promise to cede key ministerial positions while the PNU accused the ODM of undermining negotiations with “new preconditions and ultimatums” in the 11th hour.
At issue is also the extent of Kibaki’s executive authority under the National Accord and Reconciliation Act 2008, signed by both sides after post-election turmoil killed at least 1,200 people and uprooted some 300,000 from their homes.
Kibaki has called on the opposition to engage “constructively” and said he is ready and willing to conclude formation of the coalition cabinet at the earliest possible opportunity. Odinga has suspended participation in the power-sharing talks until there was “clarity” on the oustanding issues. But he insists he is committed to a speedy implementation of the accord.
Protests flared again over the deadlock, and many Kenyans who endured six weeks of mayhem after the disputed December 27 elections fear for the worse. The Kenyan shilling, the strongest barometer of confidence, slumped further against the the dollar on April 8, trading at 62.85/63.05. That compared with the highest level this year of 61.75/85 on April 4 after Kibaki and Odinga said they were ready to announce the new cabinet.
The accord states that the coalition can be broken if parliament is dissolved, or if the parties agree to it in writing, or if one party withdraws. Is Kenya now in danger of sliding towards longer uncertainty? Is renewed unrest inevitable? What is the way out of this impasse? Have your say.