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Kenya opposition threatens protests unless progress made on new constitution

[JURIST] Kenyan opposition leaders said Wednesday that they would begin renewed demonstrations next week if the government does not make progress on writing a new constitution. Negotiations between Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki [official profile] and opposition candidate Raila Odinga [campaign profile] appear to have stalled, but last Thursday both sides did agree to write a new constitution [JURIST report], a possible step toward ending the violence that erupted in the wake of December's disputed presidential election [JURIST report]. A new constitution could allow for power-sharing or a prime minister's post, which have both been floated as possible compromises to end the conflict. AP has more.

Kenya's controversial presidential vote has sparked simmering ethnic tensions in the country, where Kibaki has long been accused of using his position to favor members of the Kikuyu tribe. Fueling accusations of malfeasance, Kibaki won the December 27 election despite early opinion polls that placed rival candidate Odinga in the lead. Thousands of opposition supporters took to the streets following the election, which prompted the government to temporarily ban public rallies and institute a curfew in Nairobi, the capital city. In all, almost 1,000 people have been killed and 250,000 displaced since protests began. Thirteen nations, including several European Union members and the United States, have threatened to cut off aid [JURIST report] to the Kenyan government until the crisis is resolved and democracy is restored. Odinga's opposition party, the Orange Democratic Movement filed a formal complaint [JURIST report] in January with the International Criminal Court [official website], alleging that Kibaki's administration has committed crimes against humanity while using force against demonstrators. The Kenyan National Commission on Human Rights [official site] has also launched an official investigation [KNCHR brief; Standard report] into the alleged human rights violations.

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