Wednesday, January 09, 2008

New effort to solve Kenya crisis

New effort to solve Kenya crisis Ghana's President John Kufuor has held separate talks with both sides involved in Kenya's election crisis.

Mr Kufuor - who also heads the African Union - met President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga.

Mr Kibaki said at his meeting that his government was operational and would reach out to the opposition.

However there is no sign the two sides will meet for direct talks to resolve the violence, which has seen hundreds of people killed and displaced.

In a BBC interview, the new Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka - who came third behind Mr Odinga in the presidential election - acknowledged there were flaws during last month's election, but said there was no doubt that President Kibaki had won.

The opposition has called Mr Kibaki's announcement of a partial cabinet on Tuesday "a slap in the face".

Protests erupted in the capital Nairobi and in the western opposition stronghold of Kisumu following the announcement.

Some 600 people are feared to have been killed, and 250,000 displaced, by post-election violence in Kenya - previously seen as a beacon of stability in east Africa.

Tensions persist

After meeting the Ghanaian president, Mr Kibaki flew off to the western city of Eldoret, which has suffered some of the worst violence since the crisis began.

A statement by Mr Kibaki's office said he had assured Mr Kufuor he was initiating dialogue.

Kalonzo Musyoka: Vice-president, ODM- Kenya
Uhuru Kenyatta: Local government, Kanu
Moses Wetangula: Foreign affairs, PNU
Kiraitu Murungi, Energy, PNU
Martha Karua , Justice, PNU
George Saitoti: Internal Security, PNU
John Michuki: Road transport, PNU

"Now that peace was returning to these parts, his partially formed government would continue to reach out to Kenyan leaders who would also be encouraged to play their role in preaching peace among their followers," the statement said.

Mr Musyoka emphasised the need for peace and stability.

"What is important is that a government is in place," he said.

"What we want to do right now is to preach national healing and reconciliation."

Mr Kufuor's visit is expected to build on the mediation efforts of the top US diplomat on Africa, Jendayi Frazer, who has spent several days shuttling between the two sides.

Mr Kibaki's announcement of a cabinet appeared to deliver a blow to hopes of dialogue, with Mr Odinga on Tuesday rejecting a government offer of direct talks as "public relations gimmickry" that sought to divert attention from international efforts to broker a solution.

But Mr Kibaki insisted in a statement that there was room for members of the opposition in his new cabinet.

"When my government is fully constituted as a result of dialogue, it will be broad-based and represent the will of the people of Kenya," Mr Kibaki said in a statement, quoted by AFP news agency.

Violence returns

The cabinet announcement triggered protests in Kisumu, where police fired over the heads of hundreds of demonstrators who set up burning road blocks and stoned cars.

One man died, Reuters news agency reported.

In Nairobi, hundreds of opposition supporters came out in protest, some reportedly brandishing machetes. Gunshots were heard for the first time in days, reports said.

A spokesman for Mr Odinga has urged opposition supporters not to take part in demonstrations, saying they could imperil international efforts to find a solution.

Meanwhile, Ms Frazer is to extend her stay in Kenya to continue pushing for a resolution, said state department spokesman Sean McCormack in Washington.

Ms Frazer has been highly critical of events in Kenya - a close US ally - saying earlier in the week that Kenyans had been "cheated by their leadership and their institutions".

Story from BBC NEWS:

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