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Kenyan Fighting Continues – In Parliament

From those champions of democracy at the Associated Press:

Riot police is deployed in the city during the opening of the new parliament in Nairobi, January 15, 2008.

Kenyan Rivals Take Dispute to Parliament


Tuesday, January 15, 2008

NAIROBI, Kenya — Kenya’s parliament opened Tuesday for its first session since a disputed presidential election, a fight that has provoked widespread violence and was expected to carry over to the selection of a house speaker.

President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga both arrived to be sworn in as legislators. It was the first time the two have been in the same room since Odinga accused Kibaki of rigging his re-election in the Dec. 27 vote.

Soldiers were deployed around the building, and some roads in the area were blocked off. Riot police were stationed along nearby thoroughfares.

Opposition and government members of parliament greeted each other and chatted amicably before the session began, then both sides stood and applauded when Odinga walked in. But Kibaki’s reception was cold; Odinga and his supporters remained seated, not clapping as the president arrived.

Odinga’s party spokesman, Ahmed Hashi, said that attending the parliament session convened by the president “does not mean recognizing the presidency of Kibaki.”

Neither party has the two-thirds majority needed to elect the speaker, and both sides have been courting legislators from minority parties in hopes of winning support. Independent Kenyan analysts have warned that both parties might be trying to bribe parliament members to secure votes.

Odinga’s party has 99 seats in the 222-seat legislature, compared with Kibaki’s 43.

Voting for the new speaker got off to a slow start after Odinga supporters argued the ballots should not be secret, as it has traditionally been. Kibaki supporters and the parliament’s clerk called for it to be secret.

“We went into (the presidential) election with secret ballots and you stole it,” said William Ruto, a top opposition party official.

Odinga’s party is backing Kenneth Marende for speaker, while Kibaki is backing Francis ole Kaparo, who held the post until parliament was dissolved last year.

A week of violence in the wake of the vote killed at least 612 people and displaced hundreds of thousands, according to a government commission…

Remember the good old days when we would read such a story and think, “it can’t happen here”?

This article was posted by Steve on Tuesday, January 15th, 2008. Comments are currently closed.

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