Kenya’s political crisis came to a historic end Thursday with the signing of a coalition agreement, setting the pace for equal sharing of cabinet posts between the government and the opposition.
The agreement came after hours of intense negotiations spearheaded by the African Union (AU) Chairman Jakaya Kikwete who prevailed upon the government side to agree to share power with the opposition under the new arrangement.
Opposition supporters sang and danced outside the President’s office as President Mwai Kibaki and their leader Raila Odinga appended their signatures to the agreement, described by diplomats as a “win-win” deal between the two sides.
The rivals have endorsed the creation of the post of a Prime Minister and two deputies. The Prime Minister will be the leader of the majority Party in Parliament and would have the authority to coordinate and supervise the execution of functions of government.
The office-bearer will be either the leader of the majority party or the coalition, if the largest party does not exist. The agreed deal is a reward of sorts to the opposition, which negotiated for its key demands and won most.
“This agreement sustained Kenya on a democratic path. What is important is the voice of the Kenyan people was sustained throughout the crisis,” US Ambassador to Kenya Michel Ranneberger told panapress after witnessing the signing of the agreement .
President Kibaki said the signing of the agreement marked the official end to the political standoff which he said had devastated the tourism industry.
“We have agreed to work together, let us stop the incitement to violence. There is no need for us to hate each other, what has been lost has been lost, we have to start to build a new country,” President Kibaki said.
In a rare show of brotherliness, the Kenyan rivals hugged each other as government employees removed seats from a podium where the deal was signed, witnessed by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who said: “We have a deal and thus our work on the governance structure is complete.”
Speaking later, Odinga thanked the African Union, the UN, the UK and the United States for helping to midwife the agreement, which gives his party 50 per cent of the cabinet posts.
The deal would be passed as an act of parliament, to be known as the National Ac cord and Reconciliation Act 2008, which would be the foremost agenda when parliament convenes its regular sittings.
The agreement, which has put Kenya on the edge of conflict for months, ends what would have become one of the bloodiest battles in the East African state.
The agreement obliges both sides to go for an election if either party walks out of the coalition. Panapress