Kenyan opposition threatens government protests

NAIROBI, Kenya &

Kenya's opposition today threatened mass protests within a week unless the government begins the process of changing the constitution.

Anyang Nyongo, head of the party of opposition leader Raila Odinga, said parliament must convene quickly to enact the constitutional changes already agreed upon in negotiations with the government.

If the process is not begun, "we call our supporters to mass action," Nyongo said. Another party official clarified that any such protests would be peaceful. However, previous protests have turned violent and deteriorated into ethnic clashes.

The threat comes as talks for a potential power-sharing arrangement between President Mwai Kibaki and Odinga &

who says the presidency was stolen from him &

appeared to be deadlocked. Weeks of violence sparked by the flawed Dec. 27 vote have left more than 1,000 dead and forced some 600,000 to flee their homes.

Though the key issue of how to formulate a government continues to elude negotiators, Kibaki and Odinga did agree to a host of reforms last week, including constitutional changes.

Nyongo said this work should start quickly, especially given the languishing talks.

"Mr. Kibaki and his Party of National Unity are procrastinating in the mediation talks as if there is no urgency in reaching a political settlement in this country," Nyongo said.

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