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Page last updated at 08:49 GMT, Friday, 1 May 2009 09:49 UK

Wife of Kenyan PM backs sex ban

Ida Odinga (L) and Lucy Kibaki (R)
Ida Odinga (L) refused to say whether Lucy Kibaki (R) would join the ban

The wife of Kenya's Prime Minister Raila Odinga says she supports the sex ban imposed by women's activists over the country's political impasse.

Ida Odinga said the week-long boycott had already worked by drawing attention to the squabbling which has hit Kenya's power-sharing government.

She, however, refused to be drawn on whether the fiery wife of President Mwai Kibaki would join the movement.

The ban was imposed by groups which fear the row could lead to new unrest.

Some 1,500 people were killed and 300,000 forced from their homes when violence broke out after disputed elections in December 2007.

The clashes came to an end when Mr Odinga agreed to join the government as prime minister in February 2008 but his relations with President Kibaki have soured in recent weeks.

'Pillow talk'

"There are many women who are suffering rape, there are many women who are suffering hunger. And yet the leadership is not thinking about the common person. They are thinking about who should be the leader of what and what," the prime minister's wife told the BBC's Network Africa programme.

FROM NETWORK AFRICA

Mr Odinga says he is being sidelined by the president, in particular arguing that he should lead government business in parliament, rather than the vice-president.

The Women's Development Organisation coalition imposed the sex boycott on Wednesday and urged Mrs Odinga and Mrs Kibaki to join them.

Patricia Nyaundi, executive director of the Federation of Women Lawyers (Fida), one of the organisations in the campaign, said they hoped the seven-day sex ban would force the squabbling rivals to make up.

President Mwai Kibaki (R) and Prime Minister Raila Odinga (L)
Raila Odina (L) says Mwai Kibaki (R) is sidelining him

"Great decisions are made during pillow talk, so we are asking the two ladies at that intimate moment to ask their husbands: 'Darling can you do something for Kenya?'"

"I support them because I am a woman," Mrs Odinga said.

But questioned whether she would ask Mrs Kibaki to join her in the strike, she replied:

"Please let me not answer that question, you can ask her."

Lucy Kibaki has a notoriously fiery temper.

In February, she publicly criticised the security minister, a close ally of her husband.

And in 2005, she sparked a media furore when she stormed into the offices of a leading media company to protest at its portrayal of the first family and slapped a cameraman.



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