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'Hope is back' for Kenya

  • Story Highlights
  • Kenya's opposition and government working out details of power-sharing deal
  • Agreement will make Odinga prime minister
  • Opposition leader will have power to "coordinate and supervise" government
  • Kibaki to reconvene parliament next Thursday to begin on constitutional changes
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NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) -- Representatives on Friday began working out details of a power-sharing agreement aimed at ending two months of ethnic violence that killed more than 1,000 people after a disputed presidential election.

Political rivals Kibaki and Odinga have agreed to form a coalition government.

Kenya's feuding politicians shook hands Thursday and smiled for the cameras. But the real test for President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga is whether the reluctant partners can work together to heal a divided nation.

Under the agreement, Odinga will become prime minister and have the power to "coordinate and supervise" the government -- more authority than Kibaki wanted to yield.

The bitterness between them runs deep, however, and both men have traded accusations about inciting violence, stealing the December 27 vote, and destroying the nation.

Kofi Annan, the mediator, had to prompt them to shake hands Thursday as the cameras rolled. Still, a deal was signed, and about 500 people marched in celebration Friday in the western town of Kitale.

"Finally hope is back, Kenya has been reborn and it is like we are ushering in a new year!" shouted a marcher waving a picture of Odinga.

It was unclear when Odinga would take over as prime minister. Kibaki said he is reconvening parliament next Thursday to begin work on the needed constitutional changes.

Representatives for the two sides were meeting Friday to work out details and start hashing out some of the longer term reforms.

"I expect us to fast-track it so that the country can get on its feet," government negotiator Mutula Kilonzo said.

Kibaki and Odinga must try to repair the lives of more than a half-million people who have been displaced from their homes and require food, water and medical care. Kenya's Red Cross says it knows of at least 500 youngsters who were separated from their families.

There is also the matter of restoring one of Africa's most promising economies. Kenya, one of the most prosperous and tourist-friendly countries in Africa, has seen up to $1 billion in losses linked to the turmoil.

But the most difficult task may be restoring Kenyans' trust in their government.

Much of the bloodshed pitted ethnic groups, such as Odinga's Luo tribe, against Kibaki's Kikuyu people, long resented for their domination of the economy and politics. Politicians have been accused of fomenting violence -- now the uneasy coalition will have to work together to disarm militia groups.

In many regions, the violence broke apart cities and towns where Kenyans had lived together -- however uneasily at times -- since independence from Britain in 1963.

The worst of the violence subsided weeks ago. Still, there were reminders as recently as Thursday of previous chaos. Police fired tear gas to disperse dozens who had gathered outside Kibaki's office to witness the signing.

Thursday's agreement came after mounting pressure from leaders in Africa and beyond, including the United States, which issued veiled threats about its future relationship with Kenya's leaders.
Video Watch a report on the "breakthrough" »

"The Kenyan coalition government and people can count on our support as they move forward to implement the agreement and reform agenda," Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in a statement welcoming the power-sharing deal.

European Union the humanitarian chief Louis Michel said Kibaki and Odinga "have shown the wisdom and vision to choose the path of compromise and reconciliation."


Both the EU and the United States had said previously that they were reviewing their international aid to Kenya because of the crisis.

"This power-sharing deal means that once again Kenya is back on a path of peace and mutual understanding," Michel said. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

All About KenyaCondoleezza Rice

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