Monday, April 14, 2008

More headlines - Mon 4/14/2008

Deal draws Kenya back from brink

By Adam Mynott BBC News, Nairobi

Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki strode out of State House in Nairobi with the opposition leader, Raila Odinga, alongside him in a symbolic display of unity.

Nearly six weeks ago, the two men agreed to form a grand coalition government to rescue their country from weeks of violence, anger and mistrust.

But the deal came close to total collapse during the past week as the two men and their followers were unable to agree on how to share power.

A month of negotiations had apparently led nowhere, but then on Saturday night word came through that a deal had at last been secured.

On the lawn of State House, as the final bars of the Kenyan National anthem drifted away on the afternoon breeze, Mr Kibaki launched into his address.

He was being watched by millions of Kenyans on television, to whom he paid tribute for their patience.

The president also congratulated Mr Odinga for "upholding the spirit of dialogue which enabled us to unlock the political deadlock".

'Portfolio parity'
The deadlock had been over how to share out the ministerial posts in the coalition government.

The National Accord and Reconciliation Act, which the two men had signed at the end of February, prescribed an equal share of power.

Prime Minister: Raila Odinga
Vice-President and Home Affairs: Kalonzo Musyoka
Finance Minister: Amos Kimunya
Deputy PM and Trade: Uhuru Kenyatta
Deputy PM and Local Government: Musalia Mudavadi
Agriculture Minister: William Ruto

But that had been made difficult because Mr Kibaki had already announced half a cabinet weeks earlier - including almost all the most powerful jobs.

Mr Odinga and his party, the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), insisted an equal share of power included not just numerical parity in the cabinet, but also "portfolio parity".

At issue were the foreign affairs, cabinet affairs, energy, roads and local government portfolios.

President Kibaki and his Party of National Unity (PNU) appeared unwilling to yield anything and, with talks deadlocked Mr Odinga announced that the ODM would take no further part in any negotiations.

Getting the five cabinet posts represented "our irreducible minimum", he said.

So, when word came through that a deal had been done, the assumption was that the ODM had secured what they were after.

Mr Kibaki left the announcement of the cabinet until the close of his televised address on Sunday afternoon.

It appears that Mr Odinga has yielded much - he has certainly dipped below his 'irreducible minimum'
He announced that Mr Odinga was to be the new prime minister as expected.

Local government went to Musalia Mudavadi, one of Mr Odinga's right-hand men, who was also given one of the deputy prime minister posts.

But, foreign affairs stayed with the PNU, so too roads and energy. Cabinet affairs is no longer a cabinet position.

It appears that Mr Odinga has yielded much. He has certainly dipped below his "irreducible minimum".

Nonetheless a senior ODM official to whom I spoke said they were happy with the agreed position, and that "there had been concessions on both sides".

Momentous achievement
The ODM has secured some important posts.

James Orengo is the new minister of land. Bitter historical arguments over land lay at the heart of much of the violence which broke out earlier this year and the ODM's influence here could be crucial.

It is also widely believed that the current administration will not make it through a five-year term and that ODM will be using the positions they have been allocated to plan for the next election.

Probably most important of all is what Mr Odinga makes of his new role as prime minister.

He insists it carries genuine executive power. How he wields that power and how skilful he is at making his mark right across the administration will be vital.

Given the acrimony and violence that has characterised Kenya for the past three months, the deal announced on Sunday is a momentous achievement.

The country could easily have slipped back into violence and there are many Kenyans who still feel very aggrieved.
It will be down to the politicians and their leadership to move the country back from the precipice.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2008/04/13 19:35:42 GMT© BBC MMVIII

Q&A: Kenya peace deal - BBC

Kenya's President Mwai Kibaki has announced a new cabinet to cement a power-sharing deal designed to end the country's political crisis following controversial 27 December presidential elections.

Opposition leader Raila Odinga, who said he had been robbed of victory in the poll, has become prime minister under the power-sharing agreement.

What is in the deal?
The new post of prime minister has been created by changing the constitution.

The prime minister will have considerable powers and crucially can only be sacked by parliament, not the president, as Mr Kibaki's supporters had demanded.

Mr Odinga's Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) is the largest party in parliament.

The 40 cabinet posts have been divided evenly.

Both the president and prime minister must agree to sack any ministers.

Two deputy PMs have also been created - one from the ruling Party of National Unity and one from the ODM.

The cabinet will work on framing a new constitution over the next year that will tackle long-standing grievances over land, wealth and power.

Will it hold?
Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan spent more than a month thrashing out the details in February, backed by up political heavyweights such as US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and African Union chairman and Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete.

Western countries have threatened sanctions against those seen as blocking a peace deal.

But the key is whether the two men trust each other - if they don't it will be hard for them to govern Kenya together.

Mr Kibaki and Mr Odinga have worked together in the past - during Mr Kibaki's successful 2002 election campaign.

But they then fell out, after Mr Kibaki reneged on an agreement to make Mr Odinga prime minister.

This history is one reason why it took so long for them to reach a deal.

Furthermore, both sides have accused each other of "ethnic cleansing" - it may be difficult for their supporters to forgive and forget.

What was behind the violence?
Some 600,000 people fled their homes, with people targeted according to their ethnic group.

The immediate trigger was the disputed election results.

But ethnic tension, which has dogged Kenyan politics since independence in 1963, lay behind much of the violence.

With patronage and corruption still common, many Kenyans believe that if one of their relatives is in power, they will benefit directly, for example through a relative getting a civil service job.

The current tensions can be traced back to the 1990s, when the then-President Daniel arap Moi was forced to introduce multi-party politics.

Members of Mr Moi's Kalenjin ethnic group - the dominant group in the Rift Valley Province - felt threatened by the move.

Since then the Kalenjins have fought for a federalist system with more economic autonomy and supported Mr Odinga to this end in the run-up to the 2007 polls.

Mr Odinga, from the Luo community, has a fairly wide support base across ethnic groups and has portrayed himself as challenging Kenya's political establishment. He promised during his campaign to address the extreme income inequalities in the country.

Population: 34m, comprising more than 40 ethnic groups
Kikuyu: 22%
Luhya: 14%
Luo: 13%
Kalenjin: 12%
Kamba: 11%

President Kibaki, who in 2002 ended more than two-decades of rule by Mr Moi's Kanu party in widely praised polls, has promised economic devolution.

The concept of federalism evokes emotional responses from his camp, who claim it is a recipe for ethnic violence.

Under his presidency, the economy has been growing steadily, but most Kenyans have not yet felt the benefits.

In the overcrowded slums around Nairobi, residents have to cope with violent gangs, no sewers (people use plastic bags as toilets and throw them out of the window) and intermittent electricity.

Mr Kibaki depends heavily on the votes of Kikuyus, the largest ethnic group in the country, but also has support from smaller communities.

Who was involved in the violence?
Mainly people loyal to Mr Odinga, from various ethnic groups, attacked Kikuyus whom they saw as Mr Kibaki's supporters, as well as being relatively prosperous.

In Kisumu in the west, a heartland of Mr Odinga's ODM, and Mombasa on the coast, the violence was spontaneous and involved looting.

But in the Rift Valley Province - which witnessed most of the bloodshed, including 30 burned to death while sheltering in a church - there was reported to be a more orchestrated element.

Eyewitnesses in Molo reported seeing truckloads of Kalenjin gangs, armed with bows and arrows and some with guns, arriving in Kikuyu areas to torch houses.

Why does Kenya matter to the rest of the world?
It seems the outside world was caught somewhat unawares when the crisis erupted in a Kenya, which has been regarded as oasis of stability with a booming tourist trade.

But it is strategically important: Kenya has hosted regional peace talks and many humanitarian organisations are based there.

International pressure was crucial to getting former President Moi to step down before the last election.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2008/04/13 16:15:30 GMT© BBC MMVIII

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