Kofi Annan was set to leave Kenya today after brokering a power-sharing deal between the country’s feuding politicians to end a bloody post-election crisis.
The former UN secretary-general, who mediated weeks of bitter talks between President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga, had vowed to stay in Kenya until a deal was struck.
Mr Kibaki’s disputed re-election in a December 27 vote unleashed weeks of violence, with both sides claiming to have won. More than 1,000 people died.
International and domestic observers say the vote tally was deeply flawed.
The power-sharing deal reached on Thursday gives Mr Odinga an executive prime minister post – more power than Mr Kibaki initially wanted to yield to his rival. But the two sides have come under huge pressure from world powers to share power and help heal a divided country.
Much of the bloodshed pitted ethnic groups, such as Mr Odinga’s Luo tribe, against Mr 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.
Mr Annan said in a statement that he would be leaving Kenya today to attend a meeting in Uganda and later go to Geneva, but he is confident that talks will progress well. He said former Nigerian foreign affairs minister Olu Adeniji will be the chief mediator in his absence.
“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,” Mr Annan said. “I will never be far away. And can return on short notice if I am needed. And, as I told you, I will be looking in on the talks from time to time.”