An agreement reached in Kenya. But can it last?

A power-sharing deal in Kenya? From the Associated Press:

Kenya’s rival politicians reached an agreement Thursday on a coalition government after weeks of bitter negotiations on how to end the country’s deadly postelection crisis, mediator Kofi Annan said.

“We have come to an understanding on the coalition government,” Annan told reporters. He added: “All I can say is that we do have an agreement.”

Hat tip to the FP blog, which also points out FP‘s outstanding Seven Questions interview with John Githongo. Githongo is a former anti-corruption official in Kibaki’s administration who claims that he was forced to flee the country after turning his investigation to members of the ruling party.

I sincerely hope people like Annan and the US ambassador understand that power-sharing deals are easier to start than they are to maintain. Odinga and Kibaki have tried to power share before, and the relationship faltered for ominous reasons: the exclusion of Odinga and his followers from the spoils of power, and the failure to agree on a Prime Ministerial position.

What is to stop one side from reneging on their part of the deal once the interest of the international community wanes? Besides the threat of violence, probably not much.

If violence is to be kept at bay, the international community must provide alternative carrots and sticks to keep the power-sharing agreement alive. Or it must help Kenyans seek some more stable political arrangement via a new Constitution or a new election. No murmur of either so far from thee negotiations, however.

A closing quote from Githongo:

FP: What do you think the West always gets wrong about Africa? What does it get right?

Githongo: Africans’ experience of the modern state is of an insecure, fierce, and secretive creature that extracts economically on behalf of an exclusive identifiable minority using disproportionate violence. This creature has too often served Western interests. The West is most effective in Africa when it engages around issues that cause the rest of the world to admire it: individual freedoms and liberties, the rule of law, rewarding private innovation etc. The lives of African women, for example, have been greatly transformed by Western encouragement. But when the West gets it wrong it tends to do so reverberatingly, such as backing dictators during the Cold War.

2 thoughts on “An agreement reached in Kenya. But can it last?

  1. arrangement via a new Constitution or a new election. No murmur of either so far from thee negotiations, however.

    I thought what Odinga demanded was a power-sharing arrangement while the constitution is revised ?
    (the weird thing is that a president/PM temporary setting is exactly the kind of constitution he demands)

    The sad thing is that bicephalic executive or not, what will not happen is curbing the executive powers.

  2. power-sharing deals are easier to start than they are to maintain

    As methods to resolve civil wars go power sharing arrangements such the one in Kenya are as close to being maintainable as anything. What they’re not is very good at leading to long term peace stability between rival ethnic groups. It’s actually quite possible that the power sharing arrangements they’ve created will out last the current crisis in problematic way.