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Kenya MPs opt to scrap prime minister position

President Mwai Kibaki (left) and Prime Minister Raila Odinga (right)
A power-sharing deal allowed for a president and prime minister

Kenyan MPs have agreed to scrap the position of prime minister in a draft constitution being drawn up as part of a power-sharing deal.

The role was created following post-election riots in 2007 to allow coalition partners to share power.

But analysts say the hybrid system - with a president and prime minister at the helm - has proved unwieldy.

Instead a parliamentary committee has opted for parliamentary checks on the president and to devolve government.

Following Kenya's general elections in December 2007 there were bloody riots across Kenya between supporters of President Mwai Kibaki and his rival, the current Prime Minister Raila Odinga. The violence left 1,300 people dead and 300,000 homeless.

As part of of a power-sharing deal they signed to end the riots, the pair agreed to come up with a new constitution.

Imperial presidents

The latest process to come up with a draft was concluded by a parliamentary committee representing all political parties after two weeks of talks in a retreat outside the capital, Nairobi.

We think we have really crossed a major threshold
Mohamed Abdi Kadir
Parliamentary committee chairman

"We had to work towards a consensus and we did that, and we are confident that we have really crossed the largest hurdles so far," said Mohamed Abdi Kadir, the chairman of the parliamentary committee.

The draft constitution will be submitted to parliament for debate before being put to a national referendum.

The BBC's Peter Greste, in Nairobi, says Kenya has been bruised by a series of imperial presidents, which is why the new constitution creates parliamentary checks to the president's authority.

The draft document also recommends:

• Power be devolved to a senate and a network of local counties

• The president should no longer be able to appoint judges

• MPs appointed to a cabinet position would have to give up their parliamentary seat.

There is still a long way to go before the draft becomes law, but Mr Kadir believes it is a major step forward.

"We think we have really crossed a major threshold," he said.



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