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Annan suspends talks to end Kenya crisis, says he will speak to leaders

Annan suspends talks to end Kenya crisis, says he will speak to leaders

Talks to end Kenya's deadly postelection crisis were suspended Tuesday after dragging on for weeks with no tangible progress, mediator Kofi Annan said.
Annan, who delivered a sharp rebuke to both sides a day earlier, said he would now speak to President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga personally to try to reinvigorate talks. The two have been under international pressure to share power to move the country beyond their standoff over Dec. 27 presidential elections.
"I hope people will understand this is a move intended to speed up action," Annan said.
Odinga says the election was a sham; Kibaki says it made him the legitimate leader. International and local monitors say the results of the vote were manipulated, making it unclear who would have won.
Postelection violence has largely subsided in recent weeks, but attacks that left more 1,000 dead and forced 600,000 from their homes have left the country on edge and worried about the potential for more turmoil. The bloodshed has tarnished the reputation of a country once seen as a beacon of stability in Africa.
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.
The suspension of talks came as international pressure mounted and the opposition threatened to resume nationwide protests this week. Previous protests have turned violent, with dozens killed as police forced back the crowds.
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice issued a statement earlier Tuesday saying the delays were inexcusable.
"There can also be no excuse for violence, and those responsible must be held accountable," she said.
Rice also issued a veiled threat, saying the U.S. relationship with any future Kenyan political leadership is at stake. "I want to emphasize that the future of our relationship with both sides and their legitimacy hinges on their cooperation to achieve this political solution," Rice said.
Annan said Monday that almost no progress had been made in the talks. "I had to conclude that they were not capable of resolving the outstanding issues," he said in a statement late Monday. Annan said the mediation team "has done its work. I'm now asking the party leaders ... to do theirs."
Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, the current head of the African Union, was scheduled to arrive in the Kenyan capital later Tuesday. Kikwete is visiting to "give support to the mediation process," said his spokesman Premy Kibanga. He said the Tanzanian president will meet with Kibaki, Odinga and Annan.
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.
Still, government officials maintained that they continued to inch closer to a deal.
"We've agreed on some issues," Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetangula said after a morning negotiating session, declining to give details. "The more we talk the more we get closer to agreeing," he said.
Odinga's Orange Democratic Movement, meanwhile, filed notice Monday giving police the required three days' notice for a gathering planned Thursday.
Police spokesman Eric Kiraithe said police had not yet decided whether to allow the demonstration.
"We are evaluating the proposal on its on merit," he said. "Each application is evaluated according to its merits and demerits... We are yet to decide."
The party had already threatened mass protests if a deal is not reached by Wednesday, and Monday's filing was a clear sign its leaders believe the talks could falter.
Throughout the talks, low-level unrest has continued. Over the weekend, police said eight houses were burning in a western village in an ethnically motivated attack.
On Monday, police in the western town of Kitale arrested more than 200 youths accused of training to form a militia to protect ethnic groups seen as backing Kibaki in the opposition-dominated west.
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Associated Press writers Elizabeth A. Kennedy, Heidi Vogt and Tom Odula contributed to this report.


Updated : 2021-03-03 19:29 GMT+08:00