Monday, February 11, 2008

Kofi's choice

The seemingly on-and-off negotiations between Kenya's feuding political parties could be catapulted to a settlement this week after former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan invited negotiators to a secret location outside Nairobi. The invitation came after negotiators for President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga met Monday, apparently undeterred by a brief return to confrontational rhetoric over the weekend. The Reuters international news agency reported today that sources confirm that Kibaki's Party of National Unity and Odinga's Orange Democratic Union have agreed to a power-sharing arrangement until new elections can be held. An Annan spokesman said a deal is expected within 72 hours. A deal would help resolve Kenya's biggest crisis since independence, as normally peaceful streets have been wracked with violence since the disputed Dec. 27 election. Kibaki said he was re-elected in the balloting, but Odinga said the vote was stolen from him. Protests after the election were met with force from police and rioting broke out after Kibaki was sworn in for second term and appointed a new cabinet on Dec. 30. More than 1,000 have been killed and 300,000 displaced since the election. with violent protests in the streets. The violence has damaged Kenya's image as a regional tourist and transportation hub. The Kenya stock market has fallen more than 12 percent since the crisis began. Britain's Africa Minister Mark Malloch-Brown told Reuters he was cautiously hopeful Kenya's political rivals could strike a deal this week. The diplomat also said changes would be made to Kenya's constitution on the powers of the president and the election commission.

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