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Monday, 3 September, 2001, 16:03 GMT 17:03 UK
Dividing Kenya along ethnic lines
A senior opposition ally of Kenya's ruling Kanu party has proposed that the country be divided into ethnic regions ruled under a federal system of government.

The recommendation which is to be presented to the Constitutional Review Commission, would, according to a report in Monday's Daily Nation newspaper, aim to stop ethnic rivalries, government corruption and mismanagement.

There are those suggesting 10. Others are saying 12 or 15 (regions)

Raila Odinga

Mr Raila Odinga, leader of the National Development Party, said it would also put an end to the all-powerful central government.

He told the newspaper the number of regions is yet to be decided but added; "There are those suggesting 10 and others saying 12 or 15."

Merger talks

"But what is not in question is the decision to divide the country into viable units that that would endure equitable distribution of resources," he said.

Another NDP MP, Mr Otieno Kajwang told a press conference that he was involved in the drafting of the proposals named the regions.

Mr Raila Odinga leader of the pro-government NDP
Raila Odinga has grand ambitions

He said they are expected to be divided into Northern Kenya, Eastern Kenya, Mt Kenya, Akamba Nation, Luo Nyanza, Kisii, North Rift Valley, South Rift Valley, Coast and Nairobi.

NDP and Kanu have been in talks to formally merge the two parties since President Moi appointed Mr Odinga and three of his colleagues into his government earlier this year.

Sensitive aspect

The parties' power-sharing plan would be presented to Kenyans for their views as the Constitutional Review Commission continues its rounds in the country.

It is understood from the Daily Nation report that the regions would have assemblies headed by governors with resources to "develop the education, health and communications infrastructure".

The new plan, scheduled to be launched this month, after consultation with the parties' members, also speaks of creating a bi-cameral parliament with a House of Representatives and a Senate.

But a rather sensitive aspect to it all would be moves to remove the current two fixed terms of five years for the president. The new plan aims to make it indefinite.


The leader of the official opposition Mr Mwai Kibaki said that whilst the proposals were "healthy" he was concerned that taxpayers would not be able to foot the bill for their implementation.

A BBC correspondent in Nairobi says the plans would be seen as the best way to promote tribalism.

President Moi
President Moi would be keen to protect smaller tribes including his own when he goes

He says that if they were accepted they would ensure that President Moi's smaller Kalenjin tribe from the Rift Valley was not ostracised once he left office.

Mr Moi's two terms as president under a multi-party constitution should end in 2002 when elections are due, and if the plans are implemented could be a subtle way of enabling Mr Moi to maintain a role in politics, even if, ceremonial.

Next elections

Raila Odinga who has been jailed by the Moi government on several occasions, has been one of the key players behind moves to reform Kenya's constitution before the next elections.

He is currently a cabinet member and it is clear that if the Kanu-NDP partnership survives until next year and wins the general elections he will be looking forward to much more than a cabinet seat.

Mr Moi no doubt shares the view of many in Kenya that given the nature of Kenya's highly ethnic based politics, no single party is likely to win an overall majority in next year's election.

He therefore needs the support of Mr Odinga's populous Luo community in western Kenya if his Kanu party is to retain power in the year 2002.

See also:

11 Jun 01 | Africa
President Moi's new cabinet
27 Nov 00 | Africa
Tackling Kenya's woes
29 Dec 97 | Kenyan elections
Kenya: candidates and issues
09 May 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Kenya
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