News 2008


Nine killed in Kenya as parliament tackles power-sharing deal

06. March 2008

NAIROBI (AFP) - Nine people were killed Thursday in western Kenya, underlining the fragility of a landmark power-sharing agreement just as President Mwai Kibaki was urging parliament to back the deal.

Parliament met to discuss enacting the agreement into law, after a deal which has raised hopes of an end to a deadly post-election crisis but has so far relied only both sides' good will.

"The accord is a victory for all Kenyans, laying the foundation for peace and stability in our country," Kibaki said.

"The successful implementation of the accord will require goodwill, unity, good faith and integrity from this house and all our country's leader."

Allegations by opposition candidate Raila Odinga that Kibaki rigged his way to re-election in the December 27 polls triggered a wave of violence that has left at least 1,500 dead and displaced hundreds of thousands.

International concerns over a country usually considered a beacon of stability in the region led on February 28 to a power sharing deal after weeks of mediation efforts spearheaded by former UN chief Kofi Annan.

What started as protests against the election results quickly turned into a vicious cycle of ethnically-driven revenge killings, mainly in western Kenya.

The latest incident occurred on Thursday in villages around the town of Laikipia, a police commander and a local official said.

"The attack targeted two villages. Nine people have been killed and eleven other people have sustained serious panga cuts and have been rushed to local hospitals," said Laikipia West district commissioner Julius Mutula.

He said the violence appeared to been motivated by Wednesday's killing of a woman in the same area.

The Laikipia region is inhabited chiefly by members of the rival Kikuyu and Kalenjin tribes, who have been the most involved in the post-election violence in recent weeks.

The latest killings showed that despite last week's agreement, Kenyan politicians have a long way to go before resolving long-running land and tribal disputes which were exacerbated by the election crisis.

The negotiators who sat with Annan for weeks are due to resume their talks on Tuesday, with the prickly issue of land reform still untouched.

On Thursday Kibaki urged parliament members to whole-heartedly support a bill that will enshrine the power-sharing deal into law and see his erstwhile rival Odinga become prime minister.

Other bills to be tabled provide for the creation of a truth, justice and reconciliation commission as well as a series of constitutional amendments.

"I urge honourable members to ensure that all the necessary bills to implement the accord and other social and economic reforms are dealt with promptly so that Kenya can be fully restored to, and even exceed, its former glory," Kibaki said.

The session was preceded by lengthy prayers and two minutes of silence, one in honour of the two opposition MPs murdered since the start of the year and another for all the victims of the turmoil.

Odinga's Orange Democratic Movement won more seats than Kibaki's Party of National Unity in the December elections, but fell short of an outright majority.

Alliances with smaller parties by both camps have resulted in an almost evenly split parliament, with Odinga's allies dominating by a narrow margin.

Both sides have pledged to support the legislation.

If an agreement is reached, the broad cabinet coalition will replace the government that was announced by Kibaki in the first days after he was controversially declared the winner of the presidential vote.