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Kenya PM says confident coalition rift can be solved

By on February 17, 2010

Kenyan prime minister Raila Odinga said on Wednesday he was confident that the main partners of the ruling coalition would find a way to end a rift over graft allegations in east Africa’s biggest economy. The Kenyan shilling hit an eight-month low on Tuesday after President Mwai Kibaki overturned Odinga’s order to suspend the country’s agriculture and education ministers for three months to allow for more investigations into corruption allegations.

Odinga and Kibaki were forced into a unity government in 2008 following post-election violence that killed some 1,300 people after Odinga said he had been cheated of the presidency by incumbent Kibaki

But since then the coalition has struggled to make substantial progress on reforms, or tackling corruption, due to persistent bickering and power-games between the camps.

“Sometimes disagreements and misunderstandings will arise between coalition partners. That does not mean that the coalition then collapses,” Odinga told a news conference in Tokyo.

“There are ways … to negotiate and to find solutions,” he continued. “This is one such case and I am confident that we will find a solution.”

Graft is often cited as a major impediment to business in Kenya, ranked as the most corrupt country in east Africa by watchdog Transparency International.

Analysts say the coalition is likely to survive as neither side would be sure of an election win if the union fell apart.

Odinga, in Japan for five days to Saturday, will be meeting with the Japanese prime minister during his stay to discuss issues including climate change.

Kenya hopes to host the next round of a summit by nations that are among the lowest emitters of greenhouse gas but are most vulnerable to the impact of climate change before November’s annual U.N. climate change talks in Mexico, Odinga also said.

Reuters.

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