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Kenya grapples with post-election violence

Latest update : 2008-03-06

Kenya's parliament is due to convene on Thursday to start talks on a power-sharing deal designed to end the deadly post-election violence. Meanwhile, victims of the unrest are still trying to recover their losses.

NAIROBI, March 6 (Reuters) - Kenya's unruly and divided
lawmakers face a test of national reconciliation on Thursday
when they sit for the first time since the signing of a
power-sharing pact to end a bloody post-election crisis.

President Mwai Kibaki's opening speech is expected to
emphasise unity and urge the newly elected parliament to pass
the laws necessary to enshrine the deal struck between him and
opposition leader Raila Odinga a week ago.

Kenyans are hoping the house -- which many view as a bastion
of greed and laziness that rarely agrees on anything -- can move
swiftly to pass the agreement creating a new prime minister's
post to be taken by Odinga.

"It is our hope that honourable members of this parliament
... will work in the spirit of compromise that bred the
coalition and end years of agitation for a government that isn't
susceptible to the whims of would-be dictators and kleptocrats,"
said the opposition-leaning Standard newspaper.

Kibaki's speech may be debated for up to a week before a
National Accord and Reconciliation bill -- providing for a prime
ministerial post -- is tabled.

The power-sharing pact was designed to end turmoil after
Kibaki's disputed re-election at a Dec. 27 vote, which ignited
looting, riots and politically-tinged ethnic clashes in which
more than 1,000 people were killed and 300,000 people displaced.

The crisis, Kenya's darkest period since independence from
Britain in 1963, hurt its reputation as one of Africa's most
stable nations and damaged a booming economy anchored in tourism
and regional trade.

It also exposed simmering rifts over wealth, power and tribe
dating back to the colonial era, often exacerbated by
politicians angling for supremacy for their own people from
among Kenya's 42 different ethnic groups.



Before opening parliament, Kibaki is due to address all
legislators, who are evenly split between his Party of National
Unity (PNU) coalition and Odinga's Orange Democratic Movement
(ODM) party.

Analysts say the power-sharing deal is only a broad
agreement, and many details must be worked out -- in particular,
the premier's powers and who will get what cabinet positions.

Discord has already emerged. Odinga's side wants so-called
"power ministries" like finance and internal security, which
Kibaki's allies are unlikely to concede. Both men are under
pressure from their backers not to give away too much.

Government spokesman Alfred Mutua said the president would
make the final decision on cabinet appointments.

However, ODM's William Ruto said the appointments would be
made by both Kibaki and Odinga.

"It is very clear in the accord that was signed that the
cabinet is going to be shared on an equal basis, and members of
cabinet will be chosen from the two sides," he told the BBC.  

Date created : 2008-03-06