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05 March 2024

Crisis talks resume in Kenya

By Agencies


Kenya's rival leaders resumed talks Tuesday to seek a way out of the country's political crisis after the US stepped up pressure on President Mwai Kibaki to accept a power-sharing deal.

Negotiators returned to talks a day after US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice pressed for a swift power-sharing deal between Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga after weeks of violence that has left more than 1,000 dead.

"I frankly believe that the time for a political settlement was yesterday," Rice told reporters on Monday after separate talks with Kibaki and Odinga as well as former UN chief Kofi Annan who is leading the mediation effort.

The two sides were to discuss a political settlement which is seen as key to unlocking the current stalemate since Odinga claimed he was robbed of victory in fiercely-fought presidential polls on December 27.

"The Kenyan people expect more of their leaders. They expect their leaders to be able to overcome their differences," Rice said.

US President George W. Bush has called for a power-sharing deal, but the Kenyan government at the weekend said it would not accept any pressure to reach an agreement with the opposition.

Kibaki's camp has said it was willing to include opposition members in government, but under the strong executive leadership of the president.

Last week, the negotiators moved from Nairobi to a secluded safari lodge in southern Kenya to finalise details of a deal that Annan said was due in a matter of days.

Annan however returned from the talks Friday to announce that no final agreement had been reached and that "the last outstanding issue" remained power-sharing in a new government.

Launched by the African Union, Annan's mediation is seen as Kenya's best hope for a political solution to move beyond the violence. The recent unrest has seen Kenyans killed by machete-wielding mobs, burnt in churches and driven off their land.

The violence has tapped into simmering resentment over land, poverty and the dominance of the Kikuyu, Kibaki's tribe, in Kenyan politics and business since independence from Britain in 1963. (AFP)