Kenyans in Rwanda welcome Kibaki, Odinga power deal

Kenyans living in Rwanda have welcomed the newly signed agreement between President Mwai Kibaki and Raila Odinga ending eight weeks of bloody violence.

Kenyans living in Rwanda have welcomed the newly signed agreement between President Mwai Kibaki and Raila Odinga ending eight weeks of bloody violence.

Barnabas Nganga, a Kenyan national working as an accountant for a private firm in Kigali said: "It is a good thing because the deal will ensure that every community will have an equal chance to participate."

He said that the new deal offers checks and balances which will reduce the zeal with which people desire the office of the president.

"The urgency with which people were running towards the presidency will reduce because the powers of that office will now be shared with the new Prime Minister’s office."

Under the February 28 deal, brokered mainly by former UN secretary general Kofi Annan, President Kibaki will cede some powers to his political rival Odinga, although he will continue to wield significant powers as the Head of State.

The Prime Minister, a position that has not been in existence in the East African nation, will supervise and coordinate government operations.

Francis Wahome, a Kenyan managing Car Wash, a popular Kenyan restaurant in Kigali, said he is excited at the deal.

"It is the beginning of good times; it is only through working together that we will heal and develop our nation. I find it a step in the right direction," he said.

Another Kenyan businessman who did not want to be named said he hoped the agreement will herald a new chapter in Kenya and help resettle displaced persons.

The crisis, which was sparked off by a disputed December 27, 2007 presidential election has left an estimated 1500 people dead and another 600,000 driven out of their homes.

Nganga said that because the prime minister will be elected from parliament it will be possible that leaders from smaller communities other than the two traditional powerhouses of the Luos and Kikuyus will have a chance of having more representation in government.

"We will now rely more on each other," he observed.

Rwandans with business interests in Kenya have also welcomed the pact.

John Mutsinzi, a supermarket proprietor at Kisementi in Remera, Kigali, said that he was glad that Kenyans are now looking towards settling their bitter disagreements peacefully.

"It’s a welcome move because Kenya is EAC’s economic powerhouse. It is a good thing for them to show political maturity and solve their problems before they slid into a much worse situation like we have seen (in Rwanda) before," he said.

The post-election violence unfolded as Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) cried foul and as international observers accused Kibaki’s camp of rigging the vote.

But the new deal now paves way for Kenya to have a coalition government comprising members of the current ruling party, Party for National Unity (PNU), and ODM.

Kenyan MPs have already been recalled from recess to make the required constitutional amendments that legalize the post of PM and other agreed-upon positions. They are expected to reconvene on Thursday

Negotiations between the government and opposition lasted more than a month, with several hiccups.

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