Monday, April 7, 2008

Kenya deal still undone

Realistically, nobody should be surprised that Kenya's top political leaders and rivals have hit another snag in forming the country's first coalition government. Talks deadlocked again today, the second time since Saturday's announcement that an agreement was imminent. This time, opposition leader Raila Odinga, designated to be Kenya's first prime minister in the evolving agreement, accused President Mwai Kibaki's Party of National Unity of reneging on an deal to divide cabinet posts and refused to attend a meeting with Kibaki. Kibaki's suspect re-election in December prompted a political crisis that threatened the very existence of the government. The normally peaceful country descended into tribal violence after Odinga, leader of the Orange Democratic Movement, contended that he won the presidential election. Kibaki disputed that but said large numbers of ballots had been destroyed and could not be recounted. The resulting violence killed more than 1,000 and displaced more than 300,000. Weeks of negotiations mediated by former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan ended with a power-sharing deal and calmed the violence. But Kibaki is fortunate to have reached a deal because Odinga's party seems to have some valid complaints about the process. Kibaki is fortunate to be able to stay in office under such conditions, and his reluctance to finalize the deal is understandable only because his second term will forever be tainted.

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