Mon, Jan 31, 2011 - Page 6 News List

Kenya PM warns of constitutional crisis over posts

AP, NAIROBI

Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga warned the nation faces a constitutional crisis after the president nominated individuals to top judicial, legal and financial posts without consulting him, as required by law.

Odinga told journalists on Saturday he was shocked to hear that Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki had announced late on Friday nominees for chief justice, top prosecutor, attorney general and budget chief.

“Without a doubt this decision has thrown the country into a major constitutional crisis and may be the beginning of the end in respect of the implementation of the reform agenda if not corrected and reversed,” Odinga said.

He called on the president to withdraw the nominations or his party will pursue measures to block them, including legal ones.

The nominations were made on the eve of Kibaki’s trip to Ethiopia, where the African Union (AU) was holding a regular summit over the weekend.

At the summit, Kibaki was expected to follow up on a lobbying mission the vice president led in recent weeks to seek the support of several African countries for a request to defer the cases of six prominent Kenyans at the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Kibaki’s supporters argue a new Constitution passed in August lays out far-reaching changes to the judiciary to be implemented within a year that will see Kenya able to handle the ICC cases.

Kibaki’s supporters want the AU to lobby the UN Security Council to pass a resolution in favor of deferring the Kenyan cases.

The Security Council is the only body under international law that can request a 12-month deferral on an ICC case. Such a request can be renewed once.

Odinga has said that the Cabinet has not discussed such a move.

He said on Saturday that Kenya would be better off applying to the ICC directly, but only after having implemented genuine reforms in the judiciary.

Last month, ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo asked judges to charge a deputy prime minister, the secretary to the Cabinet, two former Cabinet ministers, a former police chief and a prominent radio journalist with crimes against humanity, including murder, rape and torture. The judges are expected to make their decision in the coming months.

Kibaki and Odinga formed a power-sharing government three years ago to end violence that followed the disputed December 2007 elections. More than 1,000 people died in that violence.

Their coalition government has never been harmonious, but since the middle of last year, Kibaki and Odinga have had a good working relationship. Saturday’s statement by Odinga marks the first major disagreement between the two since the middle of last year.

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