Tuesday, February 26, 2008
It's becoming painfully obvious that negotiators for Kenya's two largest political parties locked in an electoral dispute since December will not be able to resolve the conflict without a new election. Negotiators have reportedly been close to a deal many times to resolve the crisis, which has paralyzed the country and led to more than 1,000 deaths. But talks have broken down each time, most recently Tuesday, despite international pressure for a deal and hands-on mediation by former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan. Opposition leader Raila Odinga, whose claims that President Mwai Kibaki stole the Dec. 27 election precipitated the crisis, agreed today to call off street protests planned to pressure Kibaki's government to reach a power-sharing agreement, according to the Reuters international news service. Violent police reaction to protests in December provoked riots in several normally peaceful Kenya cities, displaced hundreds of thousands of residents and led to a breakdown in civil order along old tribal lines. More than 40 ethnic groups make up Kenyan society. Reports from the negotiations in recent days suggested the parties were close to an agreement to create a new prime minister post for Odinga in Kenya's government. But such a deal would be a tacit acknowledgment by Kibaki that the December election was tainted, a charge he vehemently denies.