ODM’s proposals on how to solve crisis – 19 Feb 08

ODM’s proposals on how to solve crisis

ODM has proposed a two-step process to settle the political crisis even as the mediation team resumes talks this morning. Party leader, Mr Raila Odinga, said they had proposed to the US Secretary of State, Dr Condoleezza Rice, the establishment of a Government structure that would reconcile the nation and drive comprehensive constitutional and institutional reforms. On the Government structure, Raila told a news conference last evening that they had proposed a separation of State and Government functions that would see the establishment of the office of the Prime Minister and two deputies. In the proposal, the President is to be the Head of State and the Prime Minister head of Government.

The executive authority in the ODM proposal would be vested in the President, Prime Minister, their deputies and the Cabinet. Raila, at the same time, underlined the party’s principles on a transitional government. This, he said, should include comprehensive constitutional reforms, executive authority, proportionality at all levels of Government, balanced portfolio for the parties and joint reconstruction and economic development programmes. However, Raila said this would entail minimum constitutional amendments to anchor the agreed Government framework. He further noted that the Constitution was fundamentally amended in 1964, 1966, 1982, 1991, and 1997 to accommodate political settlements.

Raila was speaking at Pentagon House after meeting the former UN chief, Mr Kofi Annan, who is leading a team of African Eminent Persons to steer the country out of a political stalemate. “We can make the amendments to achieve a political settlement,” said Raila. Other essential reforms and processes ODM proposed in the short-term are the establishment of a Peace, Justice, Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The party also proposed the formation of an independent review committee on the disputed presidential elections, strengthening the independence of Parliament and reconstitution of ECK. The party’s second proposal to Rice is to establish a new constitutional order and pave way for fresh presidential elections within a feasible period.

By last night, ODM had given Annan their proposal on a political settlement. During the meeting with Annan, the former UN chief asked Raila to implore his negotiating team to make concessions when necessary.Raila admitted that progress had been made in the negotiations. He said under the current situation, both sides should cooperate, adding that it would be difficult for one side to move the country forward. Rice admitted “differences” had emerged in meetings with the two parties “on the way forward”. She said she would pass the information to Annan to “re-engage both parties”. She however expressed optimism that the Government and Opposition were committed to reaching a political compromise. “What I heard from both parties was a well understood need to get an agreement and a desire to get an agreement,” she said.

Rice told the negotiating teams to drop their hard line positions saying: “This is not the time for personal agendas. It’s the time to put at the forefront the good of the Kenyan people. “On President Bush’s remarks about a “full return to democracy”, Rice responded there should be renunciation of violence, agreement by both parties to set up an independent commission to investigate electoral malpractices, a political settlement and far reaching reforms to forestall the crisis in future.
East African Standard

Pambazuka

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