Joy as Kibaki, Raila sign power sharing deal
Published on February 29, 2008, 12:00 am
By Patrick Wachira
Finally, the much-awaited power sharing deal that has been shrouded in controversy, but which held the only key to a peaceful and agreeable settlement of the post-election impasse has been signed.
Both President Kibaki and the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader, Mr Raila Odinga, appended their signatures on the historic deal that saw the return of the Office of the Prime Minister scrapped by Jomo Kenyatta in 1964.
News that a deal had been struck touched off a carnival mood in Orange strongholds, relief in many parts of the country and general optimism to a battered and anxious population.
The world watched Dr Kofi Annan and his UN-backed Panel of African Eminent Persons and African Union chairman Jakaya Kikwete as they brought together the erstwhile rivals in a ceremony beamed live on TV.
In a nutshell, the deal — which will be entrenched in the Constitution — created the post of an executive prime minister, who will supervise ministers and lead Government in Parliament. It also provides for the sharing of Cabinet positions based on the strength of parties in the House.
|President Kibaki and Mr Raila Odinga sign an agreement on power sharing, expected to end the crippling political crisis triggered by the discredited presidential elections. Looking on are, from left to right, Mr Amos Wako, President Kikwete, Dr Kofi Annan, Mr Benjamin Mkapa and Mr James Orengo.|
This memorable covenant that could usher in a new era of reforms — which successive regimes have procrastinated over until the near post-poll meltdown — will assume legal and constitutional force when Parliament is summoned on Thursday next week.
On Thursday night, Britain and the United States, who have stridently pushed for “real power-sharing” to break the crippling impasse arising from a discredited presidential election, swiftly welcomed the development.
“Kenya’s leaders have reached a power-sharing agreement that represents a triumph for peace and diplomacy, and a renunciation of the violence that has scarred a country of such enormous potential,” British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said.
He added: “Common sense has prevailed, and the Kenyan people have the outcome for which they have hoped and prayed. I applaud the courage that Kenya’s leaders have shown in taking the tough decisions necessary to put Kenya back on the path to prosperity, democracy and stability which it is so richly deserves”.
However, Brown said the hard work must continue, adding: “Kenyans need help to resettle and rebuild. Real leadership, patience and tolerance are necessary to ensure that the agreement sticks”.
Mr Tom Casey, the US State Department spokesman summed the outcome expected to put the country back on track after a bloodletting that claimed at least 1,000 lives and left close to half a million people displaced, thus: “That’s an important and very positive step forward. We are very pleased to see that this agreement has been reached”.
He noted that the deal would allow the Kenyan people to move forward with what he described as “a very basic issue of governance”. The official added: “We want to see this agreement implemented… We certainly appreciate the goodwill shown by both President Kibaki and Mr Odinga in reaching this agreement. We certainly would hope that everyone associated with their political parties and movements would work with them to support this deal and move it forward”.
In his speech soon after signing the accord, President Kibaki gave a solemn promise to see to it that the deal was honoured to the letter so that Kenyans could embark on the task of nation building and reconstruction.
The President was in a jovial mood as he signed off a portion of his powers to rival Raila in a historic moment at the steps of Harambee House.
Post of Prime Minister
The new office of the PM will have power and authority to co-ordinate and supervise the functions of the Government and will be occupied by an elected MP who will also be the leader of the party or coalition with majority members in Parliament.
Further, his removal and that of his two deputies will only be through a vote of no confidence by majority MPs.
The coalition government will also reflect portfolio balance and party strength in Parliament.
On Thursday, the Office of the President — chosen after Raila and his team objected to having mediation talks held at State House — was the venue yet again of this momentous occasion.
Earlier, Annan had engaged Kibaki and Raila for the better part of five hours as they discussed the making of a new political dispensation not seen before in the country’s history.
In his speech, Kibaki asked Kenyans to rededicate themselves and to engage in “productive activities that contribute to the prosperity and well-being of our nation. We should also be a caring nation that reaches out to its neighbours and those who are disadvantaged in our society”.
Raila regretted that for the last two months, Kenyans had known nothing but sadness. He, however, said that the tragic events that followed the discredited presidential elections would also serve as a platform to launch reforms that would make Kenya a better place to live.
Said he: “I wish to thank millions who turned up on the 27th of December to vote. Those who voted were exercising their democratic rights. Kenyans did not know that turmoil would follow but this is what countries at times go through”.
He added: “Many have been killed, many orphaned, many widowed and many displaced. We should ensure that Kenyans begin to celebrate and love each otherÉThe crisis was a test for Kenya and a lesson for a forum for foundation for a united country”.
In his speech, Annan said he and other mediators would continue with the talks until other agenda, including land access and equity, as well as poverty eradication, are concluded.
On his part Kikwete referred to the violence that rocked Kenya as a historical accident, saying it can be a “thing of the past”.
He said the toil and sweat of the mediation team had been handsomely rewarded following yesterday’s signing of the power deal.
“This agreement, if implemented fully, will help the people of Kenya,” he said.
Kikwete said friends of Kenya were keen to see the agreement implemented in full, following which they would assist in the task of reconstruction.
He said the task was not for the two principals but the entire Kenyan population across social and political divides.
Earlier, Annan had said he would sustain his efforts until the entire job was completed. He said the AG would work on the Constitutional amendment to be tabled in Parliament for enactment.
He commended the efforts of the mediators, which made the deal possible. “Let the process of healing begin now,” he said.
The deal was a result of give and take, he said, and expressed hope that those involved would not be left with a feeling that they either gave too much or got too little.