The speaker of Kenya’s parliament declined on Tuesday to end a rift in the country’s coalition government, saying both parties had to agree to resolve a political stalemate in east Africa’s biggest economy.

coalitionThe unity administration was formed last year to solve a post-election crisis that displaced hundreds of thousands of people and dented trade and economic growth across the region. But its members have repeatedly squabbled since then, and the latest row has halted business in the country’s parliament.

Prime Minister Raila Odinga, a former opposition leader, had demanded a snap election if President Mwai Kibaki did not name him as the leader of government business in the house — a powerful position normally held by Kenya’s vice-president.

Lawmakers had expected Speaker Kenneth Marende to rule on the issue on Tuesday, as well as decide who should head an influential parliamentary committee. But he threw the debate back to the parties and said they must agree themselves.

“It is the prerogative of the executive (to name a leader of government business),” he told members of parliament. Analysts say Marende’s decision has forced Kenya’s two top politicians back to the negotiating table. “He is forcing consultations between Odinga and Kibaki,” said local commentator Kwamchetsi Makokha, adding that he doubted the move would end the wrangling once and for all.



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