Saturday, February 23, 2008
Kenya's battling political parties have apparently reached an agreement on the creation of a new post of prime minister to give more power to the opposition and help resolve the two-month political crisis that has paralyzed the country. A government negotiator told the Reuters international news agency today that a draft bill is being circulated and that a deal to resolve remaining issues should be reached by Wednesday. The news gives a welcome boost to the political process in the usually peaceful East African nation, which has seen its economy and reputation damaged by unrest since a disputed presidential election in December. But a power-sharing deal would be an acknowledgement by the government that its count of the votes in December was suspect, as opposition leader Raila Odinga has argued. President Mwai Kibaki, who claimed re-election after the December balloting, has consistently denied wrongdoing. But any agreement will also include an investigation of what has gone wrong in Kenya since the election, when demonstrators were attacked by police, riots began across the country and society began to break down along old tribal lines. The unrest resulted in more than 1,000 deaths, displaced more than 300,000 people and severely damaged one of Africa's stablest economies. Former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan of Ghana, who is mediating the crisis, told negotiators to return on Monday to wrap up an agreement. "We must give the Kenyan people what they are hoping and praying for," Annan told Reuters. "They have suffered greatly."