Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Breakdown in Kenya

Hours after Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga, who claims last month's election tally was fraudulent, turned down President Mwai Kibaki's offer of negotiations, Kibaki appointed a new cabinet and rioters returned to the streets in Nairobi, the nation's capital. Odinga had agreed to meet with Kibaki if the talks were part of African Union efforts to mediate the crisis, which has sparked violence that has so far claimed 500 lives. African Union Chairman John Kufuor, the president of Ghana, has arrived in Nairobi and planned to begin working tomorrow. But Kibaki did not invite Kufuor to participate in talks with Odinga, according to the Reuters international news service. Odinga's Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) said the talks would be a "sideshow" without international mediation, and called the appointment of a new cabinet illegal. The top U.S. diplomat in Africa, Jendya Frazer, also offered to help mediate between Odinga and Kibaki. Odinga wants Kibaki to resign and agree to a new election, but Kibaki rejects international mediation his political party says the crisis is an internal matter, Reuters said. Kenya has the largest economy in East Africa and the turmoil has disrupted shipments of supplies to Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Sudan, which rely on Kenya's port of Mombasa.

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