Government blamed in Kenyan blast

Kenya’s
church leaders have blamed the government for a grenade attack at a rally on
Sunday that led to six deaths.

The explosions at a Nairobi prayer meeting campaigning
against a draft constitution caused a deadly stampede.

After an emergency security
meeting, Prime Minister Raila Odinga confirmed it was a grenade attack and said
a top police team was investigating it.

All but a handful of ministers in
the shaky coalition government are backing a “Yes” vote to the draft
charter.

“Having been informed over and
over that the passage of the new constitution during the referendum is a
government project, we are left in no doubt that the government, either
directly or indirectly, had a hand in this attack,” said a statement
signed by the National Council of Churches of Kenya and 14 other churches and
groups.

“Who else in this country
holds explosive devices?” they asked.

But Mr Odinga called for an end to
speculation about who is responsible until investigations are concluded.

Abortion row

The rally was organised by
Christian groups opposed to a draft constitution because it retains recognition
of existing Islamic courts and includes a clause on abortion.

Kenyans are due to vote on the new
constitution in a referendum in August.

At least 20 people were injured in
the Nairobi
blast

As part of a power-sharing deal to
end deadly riots following elections in December 2007, it was agreed that a new
constitution would be written.

Both supporters of Mr Odinga and
President Mwai Kibaki generally support the draft constitution.

The document provides for greater
checks on presidential powers and more regional devolution.

However, Christian church leaders
are campaigning for a “No” vote after an amendment to abolish abortion
on medical grounds failed.

Supporters of the new constitution
deny that it opens the door to legalised abortions.

Christian church leaders also
oppose the continued recognition in the draft document of Islamic family
courts.

The Islamic Kadhi
courts – set up under British colonial rule – mainly deal with matters of marriage
and inheritance for Kenya’s
Muslim minority.

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