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Thursday, January 10, 2008

African Union AU Fails Stop the Violence in Kenya

By Daniel Wallis and Wangui Kanina

NAIROBI (Reuters) - An African Union mission to resolve a political crisis in Kenya that has killed 500 people ended in failure on Thursday as the president and opposition leader accused each other of wrecking talks.

AU Chairman John Kufuor said both sides had agreed to work with an African panel headed by former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan. But President Mwai Kibaki and opposition chief Raila Odinga neither met nor agreed how to end the crisis.

Controversy over Kibaki's re-election in a December 27 vote triggered political and ethnic bloodletting that has displaced 250,000 people, dented the stable reputation of east Africa's biggest economy and disrupted supplies to nearby countries.
Odinga says Kibaki rigged the election.

Ghanaian President Kufuor, Washington's top Africa diplomat Jendayi Frazer and EU and British envoys met Odinga on Thursday to pile pressure on him and on Kibaki to reach a deal.
Odinga's Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) distributed the text of a draft agreement it said had been drawn up with representatives of both Kibaki and the ODM under the facilitation of the World Bank's country director, Colin Bruce.

The text agreed to re-examine the elections and hold fresh polls if needed, but the ODM said Kibaki refused to sign.

"It is true to his character and can only be treated with the contempt it deserves," said ODM Secretary General Anyang' Nyong'o. "This is a slap in the face ... to the (AU) mission and the international community," he said.

Kibaki's office denied knowledge of the agreement and in a statement it accused the ODM of blocking negotiations.

"The government had offered dialogue which was to be facilitated by President John Kufuor but Orange Democratic Movement leaders have not been responsive," it said.

Kufuor put a brave face on his two-day mission before leaving the country on Thursday.
"The parties agreed to work together with a panel of eminent African personalities headed by Mr Kofi Annan ... towards resolving their differences and all other outstanding issues including constitutional and electoral reforms," he said.

"Both sides agreed there should be an end to the violence and they also agreed there should be dialogue," he told reporters as he left for the airport.



The Rest @ Reuters Africa

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