Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Success in Kenya
Looks like Kenya's chief political rivals will get the opportunity to put their conflict-ravaged country back together now that parliament unanimously approved the power-sharing deal that helped resolve a violent post-election dispute that killed more than 1,000 and forced 300,000 to flee their homes. Kenya's legislators approved legal changes to create the post of prime minister for opposition leader Raila Odinga, whose claims that President Mwai Kibaki had stolen December's election prompted weeks of tribal violence that severely damaged Kenya's reputation as an economic success story. Kibaki's Party of National Unity and Odinga's Orange Democratic Union reached the agreement last month after negotiations mediated by former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan. As part of the deal, the two parties will name deputy prime ministers and split the chairmanships of government departments. The new coalition government will have 12 months to rewrite the country's constitution to resolve long-running grievances over power and land distribution that apparently fueled the violence. "Where we have come to now is a joy," Kibaki told parliament before the vote, according to the Reuters international news service. "We are genuinely seeking a solution to our problem. I am quite sure myself that we have found an answer." Odinga made similar comments in his speech before the vote, which drew loud applause in the parliament chamber. "We need to feel part and parcel of one and the same," he said. "Let us now fuse together as one people who want to do something for the people of Kenya," he said to loud applause, according to Reuters.