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Kenya politicians back at talks, trading accusations

Kenya politicians back at talks, trading accusations

Kenya's opposition accused the government Monday of backing away from plans to share power to end a deadly dispute over the country's deeply flawed presidential election that sparked nationwide violence.
The two sides are engaged in lengthy and often bitter negotiations to end the deadlock over the Dec. 27 vote, which the opposition says was stolen. A power-sharing deal seemed imminent last week, but the breakthrough never came.
On Monday, opposition negotiator William Ruto accused the government side of "changing their mind over sharing power." He declined to offer further details. Government negotiator Mutula Kilonzo denied any change in position.
"This is not correct at all," Kilonzo told The Associated Press, adding: "They thought this was a picnic where they would walk in and take over the government."
The country is still on edge nearly two months after the presidential vote that returned President Mwai Kibaki to power for a second five-year term after Raila Odinga's lead evaporated overnight. International and local election monitors have said the results of the vote were manipulated, making it unclear who would have won.
Widespread fighting that killed more than 1,000 people in the weeks after the election has largely subsided, but the conflict has tarnished the reputation of this once-stable country.
Negotiators for Kibaki and Odinga have agreed in principle to create a new prime minister's post for the opposition, but sticking points remain over just how much power such a post would carry.
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 Movement 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 the 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.
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Associated Press writers Malkhadir M. Muhumed and Tom Odula contributed to this report.


Updated : 2021-08-05 20:35 GMT+08:00