Kenya’s rivals strike deal, peace may be coming

By February 29, 2008

Kenya (MNN) — The people of Kenya are cautiously optimistic as Kenya's rival political leaders have agreed to a power-sharing deal that could bring peace to the struggling nation. The deal could end the country's political crisis brought on by a flawed presidential election in December. Former United Nations chief Kofi Annan helped broker the deal that was signed by President Mwai Kibaki, opposition leader Raila Odinga and other officials Thursday in Nairobi.

Speaking from Kenya, Food for the Hungry's Warren Elliott says this is big news. "For one, the agreement introduces a position of Prime Minister for the government. That's the first time in Kenya's history this position is there, which essentially means that the opposition party and the current operating government will have a 50-50 share. Now that the two opposing parties are coming together, this can hopefully trickle down into practicalities for the people who have lost so much."

However, Elliott says the agreement still faces some hurdles. "It still has not been ratified by the Parliament. There are also certain sticking points. For example, the opposition party wants certain powers to be awarded to the prime minister, and those have not been agreed upon yet. So, it still could fall apart, but time will tell."

While there is a sense of hopefulness, Elliott says there's still a great need. "If you look at the numbers of people who have been displaced, the numbers I think now are up to around 350,000 people. And I think around 1,500 people have been killed as a result of the violence. That's a huge number of people who have lost not only their jobs but their possessions as well."

While churches have responded well to the humanitarian needs, the church will also need to respond well to another issue. "The issues of tribalism have really come into the church. When you start to see that, it can cause a lot of people to ask a lot of questions. And so the leaders in these churches are going to have a lot of work, resolving conflicts and helping people grieve."

Food for the Hungry is filling the gaps. Elliott says they've applied for a grant to help them expand their work. "We are a Christian organization. We are here because we do want to support the churches and help families and leaders become more whole, and that extends into the spiritual side as well. We have plenty of opportunities to share the hope that we have."

If you'd like to help sponsor a child in Kenya or would like to support FHI's humanitarian effort, click here.

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