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Last Updated: Tuesday, 11 March 2008, 16:33 GMT
Kenya MPs try to fast-track bills
MPs at parliament's opening session in Nairobi, 6 March 2008
The parliament in Nairobi reopened last week
Kenya's parliament is seeking to speed up the process of passing legislation to bring into force a deal designed to end post-election violence.

A parliamentary committee requested that the bills be discussed within five days, instead of the usual 14 days.

Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga signed the agreement last month.

It provides for Mr Odinga to be the prime minister, as well as creating posts for two deputy premier ministers.

But parties have clashed over how much authority Mr Odinga will actually have.

House Speaker Kenneth Marende is expected to make a decision on whether to fast-track the process tomorrow, meaning the bills could be passed as early as next week.

Violence

Meanwhile, military forces have been accused of using excessive force in a crackdown on the Sabaot Land Defence Forces (SLDF) in the Mt Elgon region, near the border with Uganda.

The MP for Mt Elgon, Fred Kapondi, told the BBC that the military operation is targeting innocent civilians.

"The kind of approach that has been adopted is wrong. It is not intended to harm the criminals but it is intended to harm the ordinary citizens," Mr Kapondi said.

The SLDF militia says it is fighting for ancestral land belonging to the Sabaot community and has been linked to local politicians.

Mr Kapondi said that while reports say the militia hide-outs are in caves in the Mt Elgon forest, the army offensive was being conducted in inhabited areas.

The MP said he had received reports of civilian casualties.

According to military sources, about 1,000 ground forces are involved in the operation, using heavy artillery and helicopter gunships to comb the area.

The SLDF was blamed for the killing of 12 people last week.

Peace deal

President Kibaki claimed victory in presidential elections on 27 December, but Mr Odinga said the vote was rigged.

Nairobi residents give their views on the power-sharing deal.

The ethnic violence that broke out following the poll left at least 1,500 people dead.

An estimated 600,000 others were forced to flee their homes.

When President Kibaki opened parliament on Thursday, he said that last month's deal would lay the foundations for peace and stability.

There are four bills awaiting discussion:

  • The national accord and reconciliation bill, which sets out the details of the power-sharing deal
  • The constitutional amendment bill, which makes the necessary changes to the country's constitution
  • A bill establishing a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to address the recent violence and longer-term injustices
  • An ethnic relations bill aimed at promoting tribal tolerance in Kenya.

Power dispute

The government has said that President Kibaki will appoint the cabinet, and that the prime minister will work to an agenda set by the president.

President Mwai Kibaki (L) and Raila Odinga


But Mr Odinga's Orange Democratic Movement has insisted that appointments will be made by both men.

In a sign of continuing tensions, the ODM criticised a statement made on Monday by the head of the civil service, Francis Muthaura, outlining the structure of the coalition.

The ODM said the statement was "causing alarm" and "could pose a threat to the accord".

ODM spokesman Salim Lone said discussions over the prime minister's exact role and the distribution of cabinet seats were ongoing.



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Kenyan politicians signing agreement



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