Kenya’s Odinga rules out becoming Kibaki’s PM
NAIROBI (Reuters) – Kenya’s opposition leader Raila Odinga ruled out on Friday taking a new post of prime minister in President Mwai Kibaki’s government as a solution to the post-election dispute crippling the east African nation.
“I never said I was considering taking up a position of prime minister under Kibaki,” Odinga told Reuters.
Some media and diplomats have suggested that could be a way out of the impasse in the aftermath of Kenya’s December 27 vote. Conflict triggered by a dispute over the results has killed around 700 people, displaced 250,000 and jeopardised one of Africa’s brightest economies.
But Odinga said the only three acceptable options would be Kibaki’s resignation, a vote re-run, or power-sharing leading to constitutional reform then a new election.
The 63-year-old leader of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) met Kibaki for the first time in the crisis — thanks to the mediation of former U.N. boss Kofi Annan — on Thursday.
But he was offended by Kibaki’s comments afterwards that he was Kenya’s “duly-elected” president.
“Those remarks were unfortunate, calling himself duly-elected and sworn-in president. That is the bone of contention. We want negotiations with integrity,” he said.
Asked if he would, however, meet Kibaki again, Odinga replied: “Yes, sure. But I would ask him to desist from making those kind of embarrassing remarks, which will definitely undermine the process of mediation.”
In his first comments on the contents of the closed-door meeting, the ODM leader said it was a constructive step.
“In the meeting, we held useful discussions. We were able to give as much as we took,” he said.
“The issue of post-election violence was discussed. We also expressed concerns, not just about the communal violence, but about the excessive use of force by the police.”
The government accuses opposition leaders of stirring up violence against Kibaki’s Kikuyu ethnic group, while the ODM says police have been killing innocent protesters.
Each side has accused the other of genocide.
Odinga, who called off street protests when Annan arrived on Wednesday, said mass action was still a possibility.
“It is an option that will be looked at among other peaceful protests, like boycotts, strikes and so on. There’s a whole package that is considered,” he said in the telephone interview.