Fri, Feb 29, 2008 - Page 1 News List

Kenyan president, rival ink agreement on power sharing

AGENCIES , NAIROBI

Kenya's rival politicians signed a power-sharing agreement yesterday and shook hands after weeks of bitter negotiations on how to end the country's deadly post- election crisis.

Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga, both in blue suits, looked stoic as they signed the deal, side-by-side in a televised ceremony following negotiations mediated by former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan.

Crowds of onlookers clapped as the two rivals inked the pact aimed at ending a post-election crisis that left 1,000 people dead.

The two leaders had come under intense pressure to compromise over Kibaki's disputed re-election in a Dec. 27 vote, which forced 300,000 people to flee their homes and severely damaged Kenya's reputation as a stable economic regional hub.

Annan said the agreement creates the prime minister's post for Odinga that the opposition has been demanding and posts in the new Cabinet will reflect the rival parties' strength in parliament. Portfolios would be balanced along the same lines.

"Thus our work on the government structure for Kenya has successfully been completed today," Annan said.

"Compromise was necessary for the survival of this country," he said after the signing.

"I commend all those whose efforts have made this possible ... they kept the future of Kenya always in their sights and reached a common position for the good of the nation," he said.

Tanzanian Jakaya Kikwete, the African Union chairman who threw his weight behind talks this week, also hailed the deal.

Yesterday's talks brought Odinga and Kibaki to the same table for the first time in a month, after discussions between their parties hit a deadlock earlier in the week.

Kenyans were closely following the negotiations. People in downtown Nairobi gathered anywhere they could find a TV -- in hotels, outside shops and in their homes.

Also see: Kenya's army: the last defense before the abyss

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