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Kenya peace deal faces parliament test

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — President Mwai Kibaki urged lawmakers Thursday to pass the laws needed to enforce the country’s new power-sharing agreement, as Parliament was set to convene for the first time since the deal was signed.

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Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga, left, and President Mwai kibaki.

The agreement, reached last week, calls for President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga to share power after both sides claimed victory in the December 27 presidential election. Their dispute unleashed weeks of bloodshed, killing more than 1,000 people and exposing divisions over land and economic inequality.

“I urge honorable members to bear in mind that the agreement is in the best interest of the country,” Kibaki told opposition and government lawmakers in a special meeting before Parliament convened.

International and local observers say the presidential vote was rigged, and it’s unclear who won. They also have accused politicians of fomenting the violence.

No votes were expected in Kenya‘s unicameral Parliament on Thursday, the official opening of a session that will include 204 legislators, 115 of them newly elected.

But Kibaki planned to outline the legislative agenda, including the two bills that are needed to enforce the power-sharing deal, one a constitutional amendment.

An editorial in Thursday’s independent Daily Nation newspaper urged the members of Parliament to act swiftly.

“MPs have the onerous duty of pulling this country from the brink of collapse and propelling it to the heights of political stability and economic prosperity,” the editorial said.

Much depends on how Kibaki and Odinga — who lashed out at each other bitterly for weeks — work together in the days ahead.

Under last week’s deal, Odinga will become prime minister and have the power to “coordinate and supervise” the government — more authority than Kibaki wanted to yield.

The two men must try to help more than a half-million people who have been displaced from their homes and require food, water and medical care. Kenya’s Red Cross has said it knows of at least 500 children who were separated from their families.

There also is the matter of restoring one of Africa’s most promising economies.

Kenya, one of the most prosperous and tourist-friendly countries in Africa, has seen up to $1 billion in losses linked to the turmoil. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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About SG

Secretary general of Chama Cha Mwananchi. This blog www.chamachamwananchi.wordpress.com, is based in Sweden.

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