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World Community Praises Kenyan Deal to End Political Crisis


The international community has hailed an agreement between Kenya's political leaders aimed at ending the country's deadly political crisis.

Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga signed the power-sharing deal Thursday and shook hands to a roar of applause.

Both leaders called on Kenyans to accept the deal and work together to restore peace to the country. More than one thousand Kenyans died in riots and ethnic violence triggered by Mr. Kibaki's disputed re-election in national polls December 27.

Under the agreement, the opposition leader will become prime minister with authority over government ministries.

U.S. State Department spokesman Tom Casey said the deal is an "important and positive step," while British Prime Minister Gordon Brown called it a "triumph for peace and diplomacy." United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Kenya's leaders showed a "spirit of compromise."

Mr. Ban's spokesperson also said urgent attention is still needed to lessen tensions and overcome Kenya's serious humanitarian situation. The United States also sounded a note of caution and urged Kenyan leaders to make sure the deal is implemented.

Thursday's agreement also calls for distribution of ministerial posts according to each party's representation in parliament.

Shortly after the announcement Thursday, police fired tear gas at rowdy crowds in Nairobi who were celebrating the agreement. Crowds also gathered in the lakeside city of Kisumu to celebrate.

Former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who mediated the talks that led to the agreement, urged Kenya's parliament to enact the laws needed to implement the deal. Mr. Annan said the compromises in the agreement are necessary to ensure Kenya's survival.

In his own comments, Mr. Odinga said Kenya has opened a new chapter in its history. He said Kenyans should begin to ensure they celebrate each other, and, in his words, destroy the monster called ethnicity.

Mr. Kibaki said the recent negotiations should remind Kenyans that there is more that unites them than divides them.

Some information for this report provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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