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Holding fire on Kenya celebrations

Tents in a displacement camp near Eldoret, Kenya

By Wanyama wa Chebusiri
BBC, Eldoret

For the woman whose husband was burnt alive in a church in the worst of Kenya's post-election violence, it is a little premature to celebrate Thursday's peace deal signed by the country's warring leaders.

These land skirmishes are not about power or politics; it's not ODM and PNU - it's tribal
Displaced farmer

"It's become a habit of saying 'peace, peace, peace' - and then after peace we see flames of fire," the mother of four says in a displacement camp on the outskirts of Eldoret in the Rift Valley Province.

"After peace we see spears; we see arrows; we see bows; we see pangas [machetes]."

The church where her husband died was set ablaze by armed youths in the first few days after President Mwai Kibaki was hastily sworn in as president on 30 December after disputed elections.

Those sheltering inside were from Mr Kibaki's Kikuyu community.

Now some 20,000 Kikuyus, Kisis and Luyhas targeted in the area have taken refugee at the showground where white tents stretch out as far as the eye can see.

'Still suffering'

A man who fled his farm agrees that violence has opened up wounds that the power-sharing agreement in Nairobi will not immediately heal.

Man with a machete near Nairobi
Some 600,000 people were displaced by the violence

A coalition is to be set up headed by President Kibaki of the Party of National Unity (PNU) with Raila Odinga - whose Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) is the largest in parliament - set to take the newly created post of prime minister.

"The relationship won't help us," the farmer says.

"We'll still suffer more and more. Not unless people who fought with us talk to us and we come together with them and we forgive each other.

"You see these land skirmishes are not about power or politics; it's not ODM and PNU - it's tribal."

I don't imagine that I'm going to stay with a person who burned my house - it can't happen because he's still my enemy
Unemployed youth

In Eldoret town itself, where Kalenjins make up the majority of residents, the deal was greeted enthusiastically.

Many feel they will be able to put the clashes that rocked the town behind them.

But an unemployed youth at the show ground camp sees little hope of this.

"Kibaki and Raila have decided. For me I don't see that it is a deal.

"I don't imagine that I'm going to stay with a person who stole my cloth, who burned my house - it can't happen because he's still my enemy," he says, adding that he will not be returning to his home.

Retribution

A recent school leaver wants assurances on the ground about the agreement.

I don't feel it's OK for me to be a refugee in my own country
Kikuyu widow

"For me to accept it, we need stern measures to be taken against the perpetrators so that these things will not recur in our country," he says.

"A lot of agony has taken place in our hearts.

"Families are dead and it is very late for us to say it's a power-sharing deal."

The church widow says she will not be returning to her farm any time soon and will see what happens with the coalition.

"I want to really to see [it work] as a Kenyan. I'll just take a step of faith and just watch them.

"I don't feel it's OK for me to be a refugee in my own country."

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