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Power-sharing governmenttakes office in Kenya

NAIROBI, Kenya — Kenya's opposition leader was sworn into office as the country's prime minister Thursday, fulfilling a key step in a power-sharing deal aimed at ending a deadly political crisis in the East African nation.

Within hours, a feared gang promised to heed new Prime Minister Raila Odinga's call to stop its campaign of terror in the capital — one small sign that resolving Kenya's political crisis could help return peace and stability to the fragile nation.

More than 1,000 people were killed and 300,000 displaced after the December elections that both Odinga and President Mwai Kibaki claimed to win. With the violence escalating, the rivals agreed in February to share power — but then wrangled for weeks over how to divide up their coalition Cabinet.

On Thursday, ministers finally took up their positions, 20 each from Kibaki's and Odinga's camps. Kibaki's party retained the key finance and internal security ministries and Raila's allies will head up agriculture and oversee local government.

The entire government, including Odinga, swore an oath of loyalty to the president.

Odinga used his inauguration to address the Mungiki gang that has been terrorizing the capital. At least 14 people have died since the banned gang launched a protest against police Monday that has paralyzed parts of Nairobi.

"I want to tell our brothers the Mungiki we shall talk to them. We should stop beating each other. We should stop killing each other," Odinga said. "We should speak together as Kenyans."

"Raila has asked us to call off the strike and because we respect him, we will honor his request," senior gang leader Stephen Njenga said.

Tackling gangs is only one of a long list of problems awaiting the new government. Rebuilding Kenya and cracking down on crime and corruption are others.

Many backed creating a joint government to resolve the political standoff but balked at the expanded Cabinet, the largest in Kenya's history.

Power-sharing governmenttakes office in Kenya 04/17/08 [Last modified: Monday, November 7, 2011 3:39pm]

    

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