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Last Updated: Thursday, 8 December 2005, 12:11 GMT
Q&A: Kenya political crisis
Opposition to the president is symbolised by an orange

Kenya's President Mwai Kibaki was swept to power three years ago as head of a coalition of parties campaigning against corruption. His coalition is now in tatters. The crisis was precipitated by a referendum about a new constitution that stirred bitter and sometimes violent debate, dividing the nation and the government.

Mr Kibaki sacked his cabinet after the vote against the draft constitution, and his attempts to form a new administration are floundering.

Why did President Kibaki sack the cabinet?

He dismissed it because seven of his ministers had joined forces with the opposition to campaign against the adoption of a new constitution, which was rejected overwhelmingly in November.

Mr Kibaki had pushed for the charter's adoption, but many voters in a country with high levels of illiteracy ignored the complex constitutional details and used the referendum to deliver a vote of confidence in his leadership.

With general elections due in 2007, Mr Kibaki's reshuffle will lead to a realignment of Kenyan politics.

Why did ministers rebel?

The powerful former Roads Minister, Raila Odinga, agreed to back Mr Kibaki's 2002 election campaign in return for being given the job of prime minister.

He was promised the constitution would be changed to set up the post of prime minister within 100 days of Mr Kibaki coming to power, ending 39 years of rule by the Kanu party.

Three years later, a constitution was finally presented to the country that had watered down clauses hammered out at the National Constitutional Conference of 2003-2004. The conference called for a strong prime ministerial role but the revised draft retained a strong presidency.

Mr Odinga was angry that the prime minister's role was not as powerful as he had expected, and teamed up with the opposition.

Those allied to Mr Odinga feel that rather than governing through the broad alliance, which brought him to power, Mr Kibaki has ruled with a small group of trusted aides, known by critics as the "Mount Kenya mafia".

Who campaigned against the constitution?

In a bizarre twist, Mr Odinga joined up with his former foes, Kanu, to oppose the constitution.

They argued that power needed to be shared out, so that one person could no longer dominate the country as in the past. This, they said, would help fight corruption - a big problem in Kenya.

The "No" camp claimed the orange as their symbol in the referendum and are now popularly known as the Orange Democratic Movement.

It brings together the seven rebel former cabinet ministers and the official opposition party, Kanu.

Former Roads Minister Raila Odinga, former Environment Minister Kalonzo Musyoka and opposition leader Uhuru Kenyatta are its most prominent members.

The former President, Daniel arap Moi, who still wields influence in his Kalenjin community, also opposed the draft constitution, but was not officially in the Orange team.

Throughout campaigning, rival groups have played on the ethnic sensitivities and loyalties of their followers and many voters cast their ballots along ethnic lines.

Who supports the president?

Mr Kibaki's new cabinet is mainly made up of old friends and colleagues.

Nominated ministers and junior ministers may be refusing to join what looks like a sinking ship.

Even if the president doesn't want to stand for election in 2007, they have to think of their futures in the light of the way Kenyans voted against the president in the referendum.

What do Western donors say?

The referendum soured Kenya's relations with key Western donors, UN agencies and NGOs after government officials said public resources would be used for the referendum campaigns.

Supporters of Mr Kibaki accused some donors of meddling and funding the "No" team - charges the donors deny.

Many donors are disappointed with Mr Kibaki, who had promised to end years of corruption under Kanu and Mr Moi.

They say corruption has continued unabated - a charge denied by the government, which says it takes time to change a culture of corruption.



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