Kenyan opposition leader says
France could serve as model for new power sharing deal
The Associated Press
March 1, 2008
NAIROBI, Kenya: Kenya's opposition leader said on Saturday that
France can serve as a model for Kenya because its political system
has allowed rival political parties to work together in government.
There are doubts about how well Raila Odinga, who leads the
opposition Orange Democratic Movement, can work with President
Mwai Kibaki under a power-sharing deal the bitter rivals signed
Odinga accused Kibaki of stealing a Dec. 27 vote, and their
dispute sparked fighting that killed more than 1,000 people and
tarnished the reputation of this once-stable East African nation.
"This is not the only situation where you have power sharing ...
in the French constitution, there is what is called cohabitation,"
Odinga told The Associated Press. "And you cohabit, and there are
ways of resolving disagreements or misunderstanding by way of
dialogue, and it works."
Odinga said that as prime minister he will constantly consult with
Kibaki to ensure the government works smoothly.
"I will be discussing first with the president before I implement
(policies) and then, as the agreement says, I will also be
reporting to the Cabinet," said Odinga.
The bitterness between Odinga and Kibaki runs deep, however. Both
men have been lashing out at each other since the election. They
have traded accusations about inciting violence, stealing the vote,
and destroying the nation.
Former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who mediated their
agreement, had to prompt Kibaki and Odinga to shake hands Thursday
as the cameras rolled.
Still, a deal was signed, and opposition supporters have been
celebrating across towns and cities in opposition strongholds
since the signing.
Annan said in a statement he will be leaving Kenya Sunday to
attend a meeting in Uganda and later go to Geneva, but he is
confident talks will progress well. He said former Nigerian
foreign affairs minister Olu Adeniji will be the chief mediator in
"It is clear that there is a fresh commitment to this process and
I am convinced that these talks will now go smoothly and rapidly,"
Earlier Saturday, Annan briefed African and European diplomats,
and religious leaders about the Thursday deal and the negotiations
leading to that agreement.
Mozambican Ambassador Marcos Namashullia said Annan had assured
the African ambassadors, the coalition envisaged under the deal
"We hope that it will last," Namashullia told journalists,
speaking on behalf of the African diplomats.
Annan later encouraged Christian, Hindu and Muslim leaders to
reach out to all citizens and ensure that the deal is implemented.
"Maintain the pressure. Maintain your interest and you'll be
surprised that when you do that, how politicians miraculously find
the courage to do the right thing," said Annan. "So stay engaged
and demand results."
Late Friday, the U.N. Security Council welcomed the new
power-sharing agreement in Kenya and urged Kibaki and Odinga to
implement it "in full and without delay."
In a statement issued by the current president, Panama's U.N.
Ambassador Ricardo Arias, the council urged Kenyan leaders "to
foster reconciliation, guarantee human rights and address the
longer-term issues which the crisis has brought to the forefront."
Council members also backed efforts to address the widespread
violence, including ethnically motivated attacks, and reiterated
that those responsible must be brought to justice.
Much of the bloodshed pitted ethnic groups, such as Odinga's Luo
tribe, against Kibaki's Kikuyu people, long resented for their
domination of the economy and politics. Politicians have been
accused of fomenting violence. Now the uneasy coalition will have
to work together to disarm militia groups.