Kenneth Marende of the main opposition party Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) is the new speaker of parliament. The opposition candidate defeated former speaker Francis Xavier Ole Kaparo of the ruling Party of National Unity (PNU) by 105 votes to 101 after three rounds of voting and disagreements over procedure. The result will give ODM considerable influence over the national assembly where it has 99 elected and six nominated seats out of a total of 222. PNU has 43 elected seats and 3 nominated seats although it can also count on the support of several other smaller parties.
The election came at the end of the first session of the new parliament formed as a result of the general elections of 27 December 2007. The opening passed off relatively calmly despite threats by ODM that it would occupy the government benches in protest over the disputed presidential poll, which returned Mwai Kibaki to power for a second term amid signs of rigging.
The opposition has called a series of street protests across the country for 16-18 January despite a police ban.
Meanwhile former United Nations (UN) secretary general Kofi Annan has had to delay his mission to Kenya to facilitate talks between Kibaki and his defeated rival Raila Odinga due to illness. He was due to arrive in Nairobi on 15 January to resume negotiations initiated several days ago by Ghanaian president and chair of the African Union John Kufuor. However, UN sources now say his trip has been postponed