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Commonwealth Welcomes Kenyan Agreement


The Commonwealth has welcomed the power-sharing agreement in Kenya to end the political crisis sparked by the disputed outcome of last December's general elections. The organization says it is ready to support reform and reconciliation in Kenya. Tendai Maphosa filed this report for VOA from London.

In a statement, Commonwealth Secretary-General Don McKinnon called the deal a momentous occasion for Kenya that signals a new beginning for the country.

Commonwealth Secretariat Director of Communications Eduardo del Buey tells VOA that it will be up to Kenya's leaders to decide on the assistance they want from the Commonwealth.

"It's up to the Kenyans to decide what has to be done," he said. "They now have a government. They have signed an agreement. It's now up to them to decide what assistance they need, what issues they want to look at, and then what role they would like the international community including the Commonwealth to play."

But del Buey said plans are already under way to help the Kenyans with issues such as the drafting of a new constitution as agreed in the deal.

"We are in the process of working on a memorandum of understanding with the United Nations Development Program to put together a program for support of the electoral commission and on constitutional and other changes," he added. "These are areas where the Commonwealth has a long history of expertise, and these are areas where we will be willing to work with the Kenyan government to review its institutions and to improve them."

More than 1,000 Kenyans died in riots and ethnic violence triggered by disputes over President Mwai Kibaki's re-election in national polls in December.

An African Union-backed team of eminent Africans, led by former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, brokered Thursday's deal. Under the agreement, opposition leader Raila Odinga and his Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) will share power with Mr. Kibaki and his Party of National Unity and its allies.

The Commonwealth statement urges Kenya's political leaders to maintain a spirit of cooperation in the implementation of the accord.