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Kenyan Lawmakers OK Power-Sharing Deal

Kenyan lawmakers unanimously approved a constitutional amendment Tuesday needed to implement a power-sharing deal to end the country's deadly political crisis.

After passing the bill 200-0, the lawmakers extended the parliament session to debate the final step in the deal - a law that would allow President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga to share power.

Kibaki and Odinga struck the deal to share power last month, after weeks of violence killed more than 1,000 people. Both claimed victory in Dec. 27 presidential elections that observers said were so flawed by rigging that it was impossible to say who had won. They also have accused politicians of fomenting the violence.

The Dec. 27 vote tapped into a well of resentment that resurfaces regularly at election time in Kenya, but this year's bloodshed has been the most brutal and sustained by far. The election dispute exposed simmering resentments over land and Kibaki's Kikuyu ethnic group, long dominant in politics and the economy.

Odinga and Kibaki must try to help more than a half-million people who have been displaced from their homes and require food, water and medical care. Kenya's Red Cross has said it knows of at least 500 children who were separated from their families.

There also is the matter of restoring one of Africa's most promising economies.

Kenya, one of the most prosperous and tourist-friendly countries in Africa, has seen up to US$1 billion in losses linked to the turmoil.