ELDORET, Kenya — Kenya's political rivals this week struck a deal on a coalition government, pledged to put a disputed election and its bloody aftermath behind them and vowed to move forward together to remake their devastated nation.
But a drive Friday through the scenic Rift Valley, the epicenter of the ethnic clashes that shook Kenya for two months, showed that many Kenyans are skeptical that President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga can work together or ensure that hundreds of thousands of people regain their lost homes, jobs and property.
In a sprawling fairground in Nakuru, 100 miles northwest of the capital, Nairobi, displaced families living in tents said that nothing about the power-sharing arrangement — which was signed with considerable fanfare Thursday — made them feel safer returning to their homes, many of which had been torched by gangs of opposition supporters from opposing tribes.
"I know who burned my home. I know who killed my neighbor. How will the government deal with that?" said Samuel Mbugwa, 31, who fled with his wife and two children in December when a mob came armed with clubs and machetes.
"As they talked yesterday, I was listening to hear about how they were going to deal with reconstruction of our property," he said. "But I heard nothing about it."
Once regarded as one of Africa's most promising democracies, Kenya plunged into chaos in late December after Kibaki claimed victory in an election that Odinga — along with many international observers — said was rigged.
Revenge attacks targeted members of Kibaki's ethnic group, the Kikuyu, laying bare deep-seated resentments over tribe, land, politics and economic inequality. Kikuyus struck back, and the cycle of fighting left more than 1,000 people dead.
The past few weeks have brought calm, but the crisis has decimated Kenya's economy, which relies heavily on tourism, and reduced vast swaths of the countryside — including some of the country's lushest farmland — to smoldering ash.
The agreement, brokered by former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan after five weeks of talks, gives Odinga a share of executive power in a new post of prime minister. His party also gets half the seats in the presidential Cabinet, meeting two of the opposition's main demands.
Many opposition supporters hailed the deal. North of Nakuru, in the town of Burnt Forest, whose main marketplace is now a line of charred brick storefronts, several men said the agreement would stop the ethnic attacks.
But they said that Kibaki had reneged on a similar deal with Odinga five years ago, when he was first elected president, and they didn't rule out further violence if they were disappointed again.
"We are satisfied. We hope that the deal is implemented," said James Korir, a tall, 26-year-old laborer. "We are starting a journey. If someone betrays us, something will happen; we cannot judge what."
In the Rift Valley, a region of craggy mountain peaks and verdant hillsides, the worst violence was blamed on the Kalenjin group, which considers much of this land its own. Many resent that Kikuyus were settled here and given land by Kenya's first post-independence president, Jomo Kenyatta, a Kikuyu, starting in the 1960s.
In the most shocking post-election incident, a mob of mostly Kalenjins set fire to a church in which Kikuyu families had taken shelter on Jan. 1, killing at least 19 people, including several children.
Security experts warned that Kalenjin militias were arming and training for more attacks if the talks collapsed. But a Kalenjin elder in Molo said that those groups would heed warnings from community and political leaders.
"If our leaders have said, 'Let us put aside our differences,' they understand it," said David Korir, 56.
But tensions remain high in the area between Kikuyus, many of whom have fled to temporary camps to the south, and Kalenjins, who populate the north.
David Korir, who isn't related to James Korir, said he couldn't travel to the district headquarters about five miles away because it was in the Kikuyu section. A few days ago, when Kikuyu teachers returned to the local school, some children refused to sit in their classrooms, he said.
Some hope that the agreement will encourage Kikuyus to return to areas they'd fled. Edward Kiptoo, a minibus owner, said that most of the Kikuyus he used to buy spare parts from had escaped to Nakuru, a two-hour drive away. When he visits them now, he urges them to come back.
"We need these people," Kiptoo said. "They were good for business, so we don't object to them."
But a priest in Eldoret, who requested anonymity because he didn't want to be quoted discussing politics, said that resettling people was a major political challenge that would reopen debates over landownership.
"Will there be more violence? I can't say yes and I can't say no," the priest said. "But temperatures have gone down. If the issue for (opposition supporters) was that they were never heard, now they have been heard."