Kenyan rivals agree to share power

President signs pact with opposition leader who gets new post of prime minister.

kenya odinga kibaki annan

Odinga, left, is likely to be the new prime minister, and
Kibaki, right, will remain as president [AFP]

Mwai Kibaki, the Kenyan president, and Raila Odinga, the opposition leader, have signed a power-sharing agreement after weeks of nationwide violence and political unrest which followed a disputed election.


Under the deal, Odinga will become prime minister and have the power to “co-ordinate and supervise” the government.

Kofi Annan, the former UN secretary-general who has been mediating the talks between the government and the opposition, said on Thursday that an agreement had been made, which introduced a position of prime minister into the government for the first time in Kenya’s history.
“We do have a deal, thus our work on the government structure for Kenya has successfully been completed today,” he said.
“In the signed document … we have agreed to a formula that includes … a post of prime minister for the government of Kenya, with authority to co-ordinate, implement and supervise the execution of the functions and affairs of the government of Kenya.
“The prime minister will be an elected member of parliament and the parliamentary leader of the largest party in the national assembly or of a coalition if the largest party does not command a majority,” he said.

Opposition empowered

Odinga, who began speaking to applause from crowds that gathered to witness the signing, said: “With the signing of this agreement, we have opened a new chapter in our country’s history.

The deal will hopefully put an end to the tribal
violence that has killed 1,500 people [AFP]

“From an era in the face of confrontation to the beginning of co-operation, we on our side are completely committed to ensuring this agreement will succeed.

“It is going to be now the responsibility of the national parliament to ensure that the various [articles of] legislation that are called for in this agreement, are enacted as soon as possible, so we can begin the task of nation-building.”
Kibaki said: “There will be challenges along the way, but I am confident that through dialogue and a sense of unity and common purpose, for the good of all Kenyans, we shall succeed.
“My government will fully support implementation of the agreement reached under the national dialogue and reconciliation process until we achieve the result we all want,” he said.
Cabinet make-up
Annan added that the cabinet would consist of “the president, vice president, prime minister, two deputy prime minsters and other ministers” and that the prime minister “could only be removed if the national assembly passes a motion of no confidence with a majority vote”.

“We believe by these steps, we can, together in the spirit of partnership, bring peace and prosperity back to the people of Kenya, who so richly deserve it,” he said.

“Let the spirit of healing begin today, let it begin now… Compromise was necessary for the survival of this country.”
Yvonne Ndege, Al Jazeera’s correspondent in Nairobi, said local television reported that the power-sharing deal allegedly included a fifty-fifty cabinet, within which the opposition Orange Democratic Party (ODM) would get key posts.

Fifty per cent of cabinet positions would go to the ODM, with the position of prime minister likely going to Odinga, Ndege said.

However, a large proportion of Kenyan society, who voted for Kibaki, were likely to be concerned about the power-sharing agreement, which welcomes the current opposition into government, she added.


Odinga, sitting right, said the deal opened up a
new chapter in Kenya’s history [AFP]

“For some, a prime minister that is the leader of the opposition is a contradiction in terms,” she said.

Kibaki said that parliament could be recalled for March 6, which would see Kenyan MPs back in session to put some “meat on the detail” of the power-sharing agreement, Ndege said.

Gitau Warigi, a political analyst in Nairobi told Al Jazeera that the deal was a “novel political arrangement”.

“It’s the first time we are having two people basically sharing executive power. It has never happened before in independent Kenya’s history.
“It’s a great win for Mr Odinga because it’s something the other party [Kibaki’s Party of National Unity] has been resisting since 2003, but it is something that had to happen after the crisis last December following the election,” he said.

Suspended talks

Annan had suspended talks on Tuesday after negotiators for either side could not agree on a deal.

Primary in disagreements was the level of power to be assigned to the prime minister.
The crisis started after presidential elections on December 27 were disputed. The ODM claimed the election had been rigged.
More than 1,500 people have died in inter-tribal rioting and clashes since the poll.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies