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Kenya president, opposition reach tentative deal to write new constitution

[JURIST] Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki [official profile] and opposition candidate Raila Odinga [campaign profile] Thursday agreed to write a new constitution, an agreement that could put an end to the violence that erupted in the wake of January's disputed presidential election [JURIST report]. A spokesman for former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan [official profile], who is currently in the country to help mediate the conflict [JURIST report], confirmed that the parties signed off on a deal Thursday but did not offer any further details. A new constitution could allow for power-sharing or a prime minister's post, which have both been floated as possible compromises to end the conflict. AP has more.

Kenya's controversial presidential vote has sparked simmering ethnic tensions in the country, where Kibaki has long been accused of using his position to favor members of the Kikuyu tribe. Fueling accusations of malfeasance, Kibaki won the December 27 election despite early opinion polls that placed rival candidate Odinga in the lead. Thousands of opposition supporters took to the streets following the election, which prompted the government to temporarily ban public rallies and institute a curfew in Nairobi, the capital city. In all, almost 1,000 people have been killed and 250,000 displaced since protests began. Thirteen nations, including several European Union members and the United States, have threatened to cut off aid [JURIST report] to Kenya's government until the crisis is resolved and democracy is restored. Odinga's opposition party, the Orange Democratic Movement filed a formal complaint [JURIST report] in January with the International Criminal Court [official website], alleging that Kibaki's administration has committed crimes against humanity while using force against demonstrators. The Kenyan National Commission on Human Rights [official site] has also launched an official investigation [KNCHR brief; Standard report] into the alleged human rights violations.

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