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Annan in Kenya for reconciliation talks

Latest update : 2008-01-23

Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan is in Kenya, and will hold talks with both sides of the political divide, seeking a quick solution to the crisis that has left the country in chaos after the disputed December 27 elections.

NAIROBI, Jan 23 (Reuters) - Former U.N. Secretary-General
Kofi Annan will hold talks with Kenya's feuding parties on
Wednesday in an effort to find a rapid solution to weeks of
political crisis.
 
The 69-year old African statesman faces a tough challenge
resolving a bitter standoff between Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki
and opposition challenger Raila Odinga over a disputed poll that
plunged Kenya into chaos and ethnic bloodshed.
 
"We are determined to work with the parties to find a
solution as quickly as possible," Annan told reporters after
landing in Nairobi late on Tuesday.
 
"We want to determine by tomorrow how quickly the parties
want to work with us," he said, flanked by fellow mediators
Benjamin Mkapa, the former president of Tanzania, and Graca
Machel, the wife of former South African leader Nelson Mandela.
 
Clashes between Kibaki and Odinga supporters, ethnic unrest
and a brutal crackdown by the security forces have killed at
least 650 people over the past month.
 
Odinga says a Dec. 27 poll that returned Kibaki to power was
fraudulent. His supporters have taken to the streets and mobs
mostly targeting Kibaki's Kikuyu tribe have hacked people to
death and burnt homes. There have also been reprisal killings.
 
The opposition will hold a memorial gathering starting at a
mortuary then proceeding to a big football field near Nairobi's
Kibera slum on Wednesday for those who have died in the unrest.
 
Police have banned all rallies and have broken up previous
gatherings of supporters from both sides but have said they will
allow the memorial gathering to go ahead.
 
Odinga and Kibaki have so far refused to speak to each other
despite pressure from Western powers like the United States,
Britain and the European Union.
 
"We expect all parties to enter into dialogue in good faith
and to seize this opportunity to end the suffering and
uncertainty," Annan said.
 
About 250,000 Kenyans have been uprooted by fighting that
has tarnished the country's image, cost east Africa's biggest
economy more than $1 billion and choked fuel supplies and trade
to landlocked neighbours like Uganda.
 
Annan's mission follows a similar attempt by African Union
head and Ghanaian President John Kufuor. He failed to get Kibaki
and Odinga to meet.
 

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni also arrived on Tuesday to
join in the mediation efforts, though the opposition distrusts
him because he is one of few African leaders to have
congratulated Kibaki on his victory.

Date created : 2008-01-23

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