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Last Updated: Friday, 26 March, 2004, 12:39 GMT
Kenya leader pleas for calm
President Kibaki
Kibaki is fighting to prevent the president's powers being eroded
Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki has asked MPs to set aside their divisions as they prepare to debate the controversial draft constitution in parliament next week.

Mr Kibaki called for calm amid rising political tension, in an unexpected nationwide television broadcast.

The next step in the constitution-making process remains unclear after a High Court ruling that the draft report should be approved by a referendum and not parliament.

More than 600 delegates approved the draft report this week officially ending the process which began four years ago.

Sharp divisions

"The overriding national and public interests dictate that the entire political leadership, and indeed all Kenyans should, at all times, promote the spirit of reconciliation and nationhood," said President Kibaki.

Charity Ngilu (l) Raila Odinga(r)
Analysts says wrangles are undermining the coalition
MPs are set for another battle when parliament reconvenes next week to debate two Bills that will give it powers to amend the draft.

Sharp divisions have emerged among ministers over key sections of the draft constitution that would reduce the president's powers and create an executive prime minister.

Mr Kibaki called for more tolerance and reiterated that the government will deliver a new constitution this year.

He has ordered ministers in his fractious cabinet to stop making inflammatory statements in public and work together.

In a memorandum leaked to the Kenyan press, Mr Kibaki told ministers "to concentrate on issues rather than personalities, so as to maintain calm and optimism at this important phase in Kenya's history".

Former president Daniel arap Moi has also called for the draft constitution to be given back to Kenyans "for re-examination to thrash out contentious issues" before it is presented to parliament.

The High Court ruled that the constitutional conference debating the issue was not representative of all Kenyans.

Kenya constitution row in court
23 Mar 04  |  Africa
Kenyan leader could lose powers
15 Mar 04  |  Africa

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