Friday, November 5, 1999 Published at 17:48 GMT
Government role mooted for Kenya army
President Moi: No role for army in politics
A Kenyan opposition grouping has caused a political storm by saying the government should step down in favour of a caretaker administration which would include the armed forces.
The executive of the National Convention Assembly - a coalition of politicians and non-political associations - made the demand in a manifesto for sweeping reform.
But the military has dismissed the suggestion of any participation in government.
The NCA called for the setting up of a broad-based government of national unity to complete a democratic review of the constitution and to tackle the most urgent social and economic problems.
Architect Davinder Lamba, a member of the executive, said the plan was necessary to save Kenya from "catastrophe".
"Decades of mismanagement have made Kenya's problems too large to be tackled by anything less than a sweeping programme of reforms," Mr Lamba said at the document's launch in Nairobi on Thursday.
The NCA proposed that the transitional government be made up of representatives of the ruling Kenyan African National Union (Kanu) party, opposition parties, the armed forces, the private sector and secular and religious civil society.
But it was the proposed inclusion of the military in the plan which has caused the most consternation.
"That is not our role. We cannot be dragged into politics," Defence Department spokesman Ongeri Bogita said.
President Daniel arap Moi said that "any person trying to politicise the forces was committing a very serious offence".
He called the NCA's plan "a contravention of the existing constitution that showed grave irresponsibility and political bankruptcy".
President Moi is also commander-in-chief of the armed forces.
A leader page article in the Daily Nation said the proposal to bring the military into politics was "likely to frighten a lot of Kenyans".
"Kenyans, who have seen some neighbouring states collapse or turn chaotic due to the involvement of the military in politics, are unlikely to support proposals which may seem to lend credence to military adventurism in the country," the article said.
It suggested that Kanu would seize on the military aspect of the proposal to try and scare Kenyans away from supporting the NCA's plan as a whole.
The NCA was set up to before the 1997 general elections, and had some success in securing constitutional changes which would make it easier for opposition parties to operate.
The constitutional review process is currently stalled over disagreements between Kanu and the opposition over the allocation of places on the constitutional review body.
The NCA's executive members include the chairman of the Law Society of Kenya, Dr Gibson Kamau Kuria.