Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki has announced the formation of a new power-sharing cabinet, ending a deadlock that threatened the economic and political stability of Kenya. Opposition leader Raila Odinga, Mr. Kibaki's main rival in the December elections, will serve as prime minister. The arrangement evenly divides the cabinet between President Kibaki's Party of National Unity and Mr. Odinga's Orange Democratic Movement.
President Kibaki said he wants to steer Kenya towards "the path of peace, unity and stability":
"The announcement of the new cabinet demonstrates the commitment of the political challenges facing our country and people."
In a statement, U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the United States "welcomes the announcement by President Kibaki and Prime Minister-designate Odinga that they have reached agreement on the composition of the coalition cabinet." The formation of the cabinet is an important step toward full implementation of the political accord.
The U.S., said Mr. McCormack, urges President Kibaki and Mr. Odinga "to maintain momentum by moving quickly to carry out institutional reforms, particularly with respect to revision of the constitution, reform of the electoral process, and land issues." It is also important for both men to lead efforts to promote reconciliation, said State Department spokesman McCormack.
It is hoped that the new cabinet-sharing agreement will put Kenya back on the path toward economic growth and political stability. Weeks of violent protests following the December elections left more than one-thousand people dead and three-hundred thousand displaced. Observers said the election was so flawed it was impossible to determine a winner. Moreover, the ethnic killings and riots have depleted the Kenyan economy by nearly four billion dollars and five-hundred thousand jobs.
As a friend and partner of Kenya, the United States will provide strong support for the coalition government as it works to strengthen democratic institutions and expand prosperity for the benefit of all Kenyans.