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Kenya politicians back at talks, hoping to end crisis soon

Kenya politicians back at talks, hoping to end crisis soon

Kenya's warring political parties resumed their lengthy and often bitter negotiations Monday to try to end a dispute over presidential elections that sparked nationwide violence, and police used tear gas to break up an opposition demonstration in the capital.
The country remained on edge nearly two months after the flawed presidential vote, though widespread fighting has largely subsided. The Kenyan government and an opposition that says the Dec. 27 election was stolen were trying to find a way to share power.
"We have had wonderful discussions. We have isolated a number of items for the principals and we are going into discussions in the afternoon," government negotiator Mutula Kilonzo said after a morning negotiating session.
He declined to say which issues had been discussed.
Over the weekend, the government's team had said that many of the details of a coalition government were still under debate.
Government negotiator Martha Karua said the only items that had been decided before a weekend break in negotiations were the creation of a prime minister's post for opposition leader Raila Odinga; an agreement the prime minister would be responsible for coordinating government ministries; and an agreement the coalition government would be terminated if parliament were dissolved.
"All other issues are under negotiation," Karua told reporters on Sunday.
Opposition spokesman Tony Gachoka declined to comment on Karua's statement, saying it did not present any new information.
International and local election monitors have said the results of the vote were manipulated, making it unclear who would have won. President Mwai Kibaki maintains that he legitimately secured another term.
Government negotiators have said they expect a deal by Wednesday. The opposition has threatened mass protests if a deal is not reached by the end of the day Wednesday.
On Monday, police fired tear gas at about 50 women from Odinga's Orange Democratic Party who were protesting in front of city hall without a permit. The women were challenging the government's removal of a Nairobi mayoral candidate because of an alleged conflict of interest. City mayors are not elected directly in Kenya, and municipal councils across the country were choosing among candidates Monday.
City police chief Tito Kilonzi said their demonstration was illegal because protesters did not give 72 hours notice. The protesters dispersed soon after police lobbed tear gas into the crowd, and Kilonzi said no one was injured.
On Sunday, police said eight houses were burned in a village near the western town of Molo in an apparent clash between rival ethnic groups. Two people _ a father and son _ were taken to a hospital with injuries, a local police official said on condition of anonymity because he was not an authorized spokesman.
Much of the postelection violence has been ethnic, between supporters of Kibaki _ a Kikuyu _ and western groups who rally to opposition leader Odinga _ a Luo. Since the Dec. 27 vote, more than 1,000 people have died and some 600,000 have been forced from their homes.
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Associated Press writer Tom Odula contributed to this report.


Updated : 2021-06-20 05:54 GMT+08:00