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Cablegate: Kenya's Parliament Amends Constitution and Adopts

VZCZCXRO0005
OO RUEHROV
DE RUEHNR #0786/01 0791521
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 191521Z MAR 08 ZDK CTG NUM SVCS
FM AMEMBASSY NAIROBI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5167
INFO RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA PRIORITY 9971
RUEHDR/AMEMBASSY DAR ES SALAAM PRIORITY 5866
RUEHDJ/AMEMBASSY DJIBOUTI PRIORITY 5171
RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA PRIORITY 2695
RUEHKH/AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM PRIORITY 1947
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 2727
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 2656
RHMFIUU/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/CJTF HOA PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 NAIROBI 000786

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM PGOV PREL KDEM KE
SUBJECT: KENYA'S PARLIAMENT AMENDS CONSTITUTION AND ADOPTS
POWER- SHARING AGREEMENT

REF: A. NAIROBI 693
B. NAIROBI 687
C. NAIROBI 682
D. NAIROBI 601 AND OTHERS

NAIROBI 00000786 001.18 OF 002


-------
SUMMARY
-------

1. Kenya's grand coalition government is now a legal
reality. On March 18, Kenya's parliament adopted the
Constitutional Amendment Bill and the National Accord and
Reconciliation Bill (reftels a and c), which create a prime
minister position and further secure the power-sharing
agreement between President Kibaki and Raila Odinga. The
atmosphere in parliament during debate of these bills was
once again collegial. Remarks made by the leaders of both
the Party of National Unity (PNU) and Orange Democratic
Movement (ODM) continue to foster a spirit of unity. The
next step is agreeing to the distribution of cabinet posts,
which most observers anticipate will happen in the near
future. End Summary.

------------------------------------
UNITY OF PURPOSE ON THE FLOOR...
------------------------------------

2. The session began with a precedent-setting move.
President Kibaki entered the hall and sat in the seat
reserved for the leader of Government business, instead of
that reserved for the Head of State. The session began with
debate on the constitutional Amendment Bill. Kibaki again
broke with precedent, speaking on the bill from the floor as
an MP, not as Head of State. Kibaki called for unity to
rebuild the nation. These comments were echoed by ODM leader
(and presumptive PM) Raila Odinga and by other MPs taking the
floor. Even Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs
Martha Karua, considered the government's leading opponent to
the power-sharing agreement, spoke of the political necessity
to implement the deal to move the country forward. Both
measures passed the house unanimously and without amendment.
President Kibaki immediately assented to both, giving them
force of law.

3. The Speaker broke with tradition and permitted live TV
broadcast of the session. (Note: Traditionally, only the
swearing-in of MPs and the State Opening are broadcast live.
In a sign that Parliament may become a more transparent
institution, Speaker Marende has pledged to permit live radio
broadcasts of Parliament sessions within six months, with
live television broadcasts to follow by the end of 2008. End
Note.) Kibaki and Raila both called for Kenya to deal with
ethnicity in a forthright manner, while emphasizing the right
of Kenyans to live anywhere in the country. Both agreed on
the need for a new constitution. Kibaki sounded optimistic
that a new Constitution could be adopted within 12 months, as
called for in the power sharing agreement.

-------------------------------
... BUT IMPORTANT ISSUES REMAIN
-------------------------------

4. Passage of the legislation is important, but the parties
must still negotiate several critical issues. For example,
the mandate of the PM is still undefined, as
is the PM's position in relation to the VP (ODM insists that
the PM should report directly to the President, while many in
PNU want the MP to report to the VP). Both sides also need
to name their respective Deputy Prime Minister. ODM has
apparently settled on Musalia Mudavadi as its Deputy PM.
However, the PNU coalition has yet to settle the matter, with
Minister of Local Governance Uhuru Kenyatta, Martha Karua,
and Minister of Finance Amos Kimunya among the most serious
contenders. In addition, the parties must agree on the
number of ministries (expected to be expanded from 32 to
approximately 38). Negotiations on the allocation of
ministries among PNU (and its Orange Democratic
Movement-Kenya partner) and ODM are ongoing. In nominating
ministers, both Kibaki and Raila must balance competing
regional constituencies within their coalitions. Already
Rift Valley MPs have demanded that they be rewarded for their
steadfast support of ODM. Similar demands are being placed

NAIROBI 00000786 002 OF 002


on PNU.
RANNEBERGER

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