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Diplomats remain neutral, urge unity

NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 21 – Ten diplomatic missions in Nairobi have for the first time opted to remain neutral in the ongoing debate on the nomination of four constitutional office holders, and instead called for unity in the coalition government.

The diplomats called on President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga to cooperate and resolve the impasse that appears to derail the implementation of the new Constitution.

Reading the statement, Swiss Ambassador Jacques Pitteloud said the government should live to its mandate of ensuring key reforms within key institutions.

"We are not making judgements as to whether the current debate over the process of appointments was constitutional. We are not taking sides," he said.

Their tactfully worded statement stated: "We are encouraging a process that gives confidence to Kenyans that the Executive, Parliament and the Judiciary are putting the interests of the country first."

President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga are currently in locked in a dispute over nominations to the offices of the Chief Justice, Attorney General, Director of Public Prosecutions and Controller of Budget.

On Thursday Speaker Kenneth Marende rejected the nominees who had been submitted to Parliament for approval saying the process was illegal.

While Mr Odinga supported the ruling, President Kibaki dismissed it and declared that only the court could interpret the Constitution.

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The envoys said the standoff was an impediment to the smooth implementation the Constitution. They called on the government to uphold the spirit of public participation and transparency in the implementation of the new constitution.

"We strongly encourage implementation of the constitution in a manner that involves the Kenyan people, civil society and professional organisations," the envoys said.

Polish ambassador Anna Grapinska said: "The implementation is not going in the speed in which Kenyans deserve."

British High Commissioner Rob Macaire added: "We are worried by what we are seeing and we agree with a lot of Kenyans who are saying this is taking us backward."

Others counties represented were Netherlands, Germany, France, and Italy, Denmark, Sweden and United States of America.

Last week, American ambassador Michael Ranneberger- who signed Monday\’s statement – backed Speaker Kenneth Marende\’s ruling that declared the nominations unconstitutional and urged the two principals to restart the process.

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