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Kenyan Rivals Reach Power-Sharing Deal

RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

We're following news today from Kenya, where rival politicians have reached an agreement aimed at ending that country's political crises. Kenya was thrown into turmoil after a disputed election late last year sparked widespread violence and left more than a thousand people dead. Today's power-sharing agreement was announced by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, who brokered the deal.

Mr. KOFI ANNAN (Former Secretary General, United Nations): I know some of you may have wished to get more, but what you got is the best under the circumstances. Keep it for the sake of the broad masses of Kenya, they deserve a break. They deserve to be treated better.

MONTAGNE: Kofi Annan, speaking today in Nairobi. NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton has been following this story, and she joins us now to talk about it. And Ofeibea, tell us about the terms of this agreement.

OFEIBEA QUIST-ARCTON: Well, that's the big question, Renee. The devil is in the detail. What the opposition wanted, Raila Odinga, was an executive prime minister's post. But the sticking point was that the government and President Mwai Kibaki wanted a more ceremonial prime minister's post for him. So power sharing, but each side has had its own different views of how power should be shared, and that's why it's taken a month to reach this far.

MONTAGNE: Well, having gotten to this agreement to share power, how are they, in fact, going to do that?

QUIST-ARCTON: We'll have to see. The fact is that they have signed something. Kofi Annan, when he stood between the two men, Raila Odinga, the opposition leader, and President Mwai Kibaki, was smiling. They were all smiling. But we've had lots of smiles over the past month. And I've been covering these talks for about a month. The thing is, how are they going to share power? What Kenyans want to see is peace. So what they hope is that these two men - and their track records are going to be what will be proof of leadership and proof of commitment - is how they will agree. Four or five years ago, when we had the previous election in Kenya, these two men - Raila Odinga and President Mwai Kibaki - shared power. Raila Odinga said Kibaki had promised him the prime minister's post, but that never happened. And that's what's led to this current crises, after what was alleged to have been a rigged election vote at the end of December. So we'll have to see. The fact is, though, they have signed something, and that may be hope to Kenyans, but they want to see a lot more.

MONTAGNE: Kofi Annan worked for more than a month to broker this deal. And there were moments when it looked nothing was going to happen, and now it appears there is a break through. Tell us about his role and his standing in Kenya.

QUIST-ARCTON: Well, he has been - Kenyans are calling him our savior. They said that Kofi Annan - the fact that he had agreed to be a chief mediator between the opposition and the government after killings, after violence, after unprecedented violence in Kenya, the fact that he had agreed to try to bring the two sides together, to try and find reconciliation, to try and find peace, there was some hope. But the thing is, is there true commitment from the politicians? Kenyans feel very let down by the leadership. And what they're going to want to see now is the two men sitting together, working together, reconciling, and bringing the country back together so that Kenya remains this huge economic regional powerhouse in East Africa, and a stable nation. That reputation has gone.

MONTAGNE: Ofeibea, thanks very much.

QUIST-ARCTON: Always a pleasure.

MONTAGNE: NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton on news that rival politicians in Kenya have signed a power-sharing agreement aimed at ending their country's political crises. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Renee Montagne
Renee Montagne, one of the best-known names in public radio, is a special correspondent and host for NPR News.
Ofeibea Quist-Arcton
Ofeibea Quist-Arcton is an award-winning broadcaster from Ghana and is NPR's Africa Correspondent. She describes herself as a "jobbing journalist"—who's often on the hoof, reporting from somewhere.