, NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 8 – A meeting between President Mwai Kibaki, Prime Minister Raila Odinga and church leaders to discuss their opposition to the draft Constitution ended in a stalemate on Thursday.
One of the clergymen at the negotiations which started in the morning into the early part of Thursday afternoon told reporters that the two sides could not reach any agreements and instead decided to form a smaller committee to seek consensus.
He was however pulled away by his fellow clerics and asked to stop giving any information to the media.
Earlier, the Secretary General of the National Council of Churches of Kenya Cannon Peter Karanja told journalists that there was hope and that the two sides would meet again to continue with the talks.
“We have commenced some meaningful dialogue; we have explored several possibilities of unlocking the deadlock. We have committed ourselves to continue in dialogue and in coming days we shall be able to give the nation some concrete information,” said Cannon Karanja.
A press statement from the Presidential Press Service (PPS) said that another meeting would be held in a week’s time.
“It was agreed that a smaller committee of representatives from both the government and the churches be immediately established to look into the areas of concern raised by the churches in regard to the proposed constitution, for accommodation in subsequent legislation and amendments,” the PPS statement said.
It added that it had been resolved that there was need for the Church and State to engage in further dialogue with a view to achieving consensus and establish a way forward on the contentious issues raised by the Church leaders.
The statement indicated that the meeting also focused on the upcoming referendum later in the year.
Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Mutula Kilonzo who was also present at the meeting however described the discussions as fruitful. “We had wonderful consultations; a successful meeting with both leaders and the representatives of the church who came as one group not as different denominations and we have agreed to continue dialogue,” he said.
Details on when the two sides would meet again and what their meeting had accomplished so far were scanty as the leaders refused to answer questions posed by reporters.
“No questions please; we shall call you when we are ready,” is all they said.
Also present were Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka, Attorney General Amos Wako, Cabinet Ministers Uhuru Kenyatta, George Saitoti, William Ruto, James Orengo, Najib Balala, Justice Permanent Secretary Amina Mohammed and Chief Whip George Thuo.