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Kenyan president dissolves parliament, paving the way for elections

Kenyan president dissolves parliament, paving the way for elections

President Mwai Kibaki has dissolved Kenya's parliament, starting the countdown to elections in December that promise to be the most closely contested polls in the country's history.
"It is only through a fair and credible poll, free of violence and intimidation that the true verdict of the people will prevail," Kibaki said Monday in a live broadcast on local television stations. "I hereby dissolve the ninth parliament of the Republic of Kenya with immediate effect."
The dissolution of parliament means members of the National Assembly no longer serve as lawmakers and Kibaki's administration continues only in a caretaker capacity, legally unable to make any major decisions until a new government forms. Under Kenyan law, the Electoral Commission of Kenya now must declare a date for presidential, parliamentary and local elections within 10 working days and the election must be held within three months.
This year's election will be the first time an incumbent president has faced a credible challenge in Kenya. When Kibaki ran in 2002, then-President Daniel arap Moi was constitutionally barred from extending his 24 years in power. Moi won in 1992 and 1997 amid vote-rigging allegations.
Kibaki, 75, had been the front-runner in opinion polls this year until this month, when he lost his lead to his main challenger, former Cabinet minister Raila Odinga. In recent opinion polls, Odinga leads by about 10 percentage points although the volatility of Kenyan politics means the figures could fluctuate significantly.
Kenya's estimated 34 million people have witnessed significant improvements over the past four-and-a-half years of Kibaki's administration, compared with the widespread corruption of the Moi years. Economic growth reached 6.1 percent in 2006, a rate Kenya last saw in 1981.
But inflation caused by the growing economy could work in the opposition's favor. The cost of living has increased and the number of jobs created each year has mostly remained stagnant.
Kibaki's failure to end graft has also been a grave disappointment to Kenyans _ some of whom had been so emboldened by his promises at the start of him term that they started making citizen's arrests of police who demanded bribes.
The country also continues to be plagued by violent crime _ this year has seen a string of grisly beheadings, allegedly by a banned sect that threatened to overthrow the government. Land disputes in the Mount Elgon area, 320 miles (515 kilometers) northwest of Nairobi, have killed more than 140 people and forced tens of thousands from their homes.
Odinga, 62, proposes changing Kenya's current constitution to enact a parliamentary system of government, with the aim of changing the emphasis on tribe in Kenyan politics. Another opposition challenger, Kalonzo Musyoka, 53, also has vowed to enact a new constitution that is more democratic than the current one, which gives the presidency enormous powers.


Updated : 2021-10-20 21:31 GMT+08:00