Stand-off at Kenya's parliament. Arguments over the constitution have led to riots. Policemen have surrounded parliament in Kenya's capital, Nairobi, wanting to arrest two MPs holed up inside. The two men are accused of sparking a brawl between rival supporters on Wednesday, which police broke up. Several violent incidents have been reported in tense campaigning ahead of a referendum on a new constitution.
International donors have condemned the violence between the two rival camps and called for a campaign free from violence and intimidation. The wanted men, Reuben Ndolo and David Mwenje, are members of President Mwai Kibaki's ruling Narc coalition opposed to the new draft constitution. Police want to talk to them in connection with violence at a meeting on Wednesday convened by Deputy Minister Maina Kamanda to drum up support for the proposed constitution. "I have no regrets," Mr Mwenje told the BBC's Focus on Africa from within parliament. "It was an illegal meeting."
On Wednesday, diplomats from 25 countries said in a joint statement that they wanted to see a campaign "not marred by violence or its incitement, physical intimidation or financial manipulation". They also urged that members of government and government officials "refrain from any inappropriate use of public resources for political purposes". Opponents of the draft want a new constitution to curb presidential powers.
President Kibaki's government is leading the "Yes" campaign under the symbol of a banana, while the opposition and a party within the ruling coalition have teamed up to campaign against with their symbol of an orange. If the new constitution is approved on 21 November, it would be the first major overhaul of Kenya's constitution since independence from Britain in 1963. Critics of the draft say it fails to establish a strong prime minister's post, which they say would prevent the president abusing his powers.
Instead, the premier is appointed and can be dismissed by the president. Earlier on Thursday, two Kenyan journalists were charged by police over an article a magistrate said was "likely to cause fear and alarm to the public". The opinion piece about Kenya's draft constitution was called "Coups in Africa do not occur out of nothing". Sunday Times Managing Editor Onyango Omollo and Staff Writer David Ochami pleaded innocent.
BBC News Report.