Hopes for an end to the violence sweeping Kenya rose today when a leading opposition MP said a deal had been struck to form a joint government with President Mwai Kibaki.
The two sides were still discussing who would lead the government and what roles each party would play.
But, William Rutto, from the opposition Orange Democratic Movement said: “We have finally agreed there is a problem in the country and neither side can proceed on its own.”
Mr Rutto added: ``We have agreed to form a joint government. Details of that government, its time and how to share it are under discussions.''
Yesterday opposition leader Raila Odinga retreated from earlier calls for Mr Kibaki to step down over the disputed presidential election in December.
“We are saying that we are willing to give and take. Initially our stand was that we won the elections, and Mr Kibaki lost the elections, he should resign, and we should be sworn in, but we have said that we are not static on that point,” Mr Odinga said.
Speaking at a prayer meeting in Nairobi today before the power sharing agreement was revealed, Mr Kibaki said he was “encouraged” by progress in talks and reiterated “my personal support and that of my entire government to this process.”
He added that “those who mastermind or engage in acts of violence will pay for their criminal activities.”
The violence that erupted in the wake of the election that the opposition accuses Mr Kibaki of stealing has already displaced around 300,000 people and claimed over 1,000 lives.
Today around 5,000 people fled a makeshift camp for those displaced by the violence in the western town of Kericho, fearing trouble ahead of tomorrow’s funeral for an opposition MP killed last week. Only about 1,000 people were left in the camp, said Red Cross official Susan Onyango.
Kericho’s main street was packed with families hastily piling furniture onto government lorries provided to take them to areas where their ethnic group was predominant.
The MP was killed in what the opposition described as a political assassination, but what police said was a crime of passion by a traffic policeman who believed his girlfriend was involved with the politician. The killing had sparked attacks on the policeman’s ethnic group, the Kisii.