Kenya's Kibaki denies offering PM post to his rival

Updated: 2008-01-27 09:59

NAIROBI - Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki on Saturday denied offering his rival Raila Odinga the post of prime minister, saying there is no provision in the constitution for that office.

Kenya's President Mwai Kibaki (R) meets with former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan (L) at the State House in Nairobi January 26, 2008. [Agencies]

A statement from Kibaki's office said while the Kenyan leader was committed to dialogue with the main opposition party, Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), there was no time when Kibaki has offered a post of PM to Odinga.

"The issue of the post of prime minister is a constitutional matter and currently there is no provision in the Kenyan constitution for the office of prime minister," the statement said.

The ODM leader has ruled out taking a new post of prime minister in President Kibaki's government as a solution to the post-election crisis.

In an interview with Reuters on Friday, Odinga said the only three acceptable options would be Kibaki's resignation, a vote re- run, or power-sharing leading to constitutional reform.

"I never said I was considering taking up a position of prime minister under Kibaki," Odinga said in the interview.

Some diplomats and donors have suggested giving power-sharing could be a way out of the impasse in the aftermath of Kenya's December 27 vote.

Conflict triggered by a dispute over the results has killed some 700 people, displaced 250,000 and jeopardized one of Africa's brightest economies.

But President Kibaki said that calls for peace should be matched by statements by all leaders in a manner that is reconciliatory and respectful of the wishes of the majority of Kenyans who would like to see a peaceful solution to the current situation.

The statement also said Kibaki wishes to see Kenyan leaders give the initiative by Kofi Annan a chance, adding that he is encouraged by efforts by Annan that led to a meeting with Odinga.

"In this connection the president once again calls on all Kenyans to respect the rule of law and sanctity of human life. President Kibaki appealed to all Kenyans to embrace the spirit of reconciliation and dialogue in order to ensure that peace prevails in all corners of the country," the statement said.

The ODM leader met Kibaki for the first time in the crisis on Thursday under the African Union (AU)-led mediation efforts to help resolve the crisis.

But Odinga said he was offended by Kibaki's comments afterwards that he was Kenya's "duly-elected" president.

"Those remarks were unfortunate, calling himself duly-elected and sworn-in president. That is the bone of contention. We want negotiations with integrity," he said.

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