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Africa
Kenya mediation talks fail
Kofi Annan is to step in to mediate between the feuding parties.
Last Modified: 11 Jan 2008 11:00 GMT
Female opposition members took
their protest to the streets [EPA]

Talks aimed at ending Kenya's political deadlock, that led to the deaths of at least 500 people in post-election violence, have failed.

According to the opposition, talks collapsed due to the intransigence of Mwai Kibaki, the president, during talks with John Kufour, the African Union (AU) chief, and Raila Odinga, the opposition leader.
Anyang' Nyong'o, the secretary-general of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), said: "President Kufuor this afternoon presented to Kibaki an agreement agreed to by our representatives, but Kibaki refused to sign it."
"This is a slap in the face ... to the (AU) mission and the international community."

But an agreement to "an immediate cessation of violence as well as any acts which may be detrimental to finding a peaceful solution to the ongoing crisis" was made on Thursday between Kibaki and Odinga.

New mediator
 
The continued deadlock has resulted in the appointment of Kofi Annan, the former UN secretary-general, to take over from Kufour in the mediation effort.
 
Kufuor said as he left the country after three days: "The parties agreed to work together with a panel of eminent African personalities headed by Kofi Annan ... towards resolving their differences and all other outstanding issues including constitutional and electoral reforms."

Meanwhile, Kibaki swore in 17 cabinet ministers, despite criticism of his decision to name a partial new cabinet in the middle of a political crisis.
 
Al Jazeera's Mohammed Adow, reporting from Nairobi, the capital, said that with the failure of talks added with Kibaki's appointment of new ministers, fresh clashes could break out.

He said: "The situation is tense, and it is uncertain as to how things will turn out, considering that the deadlock continues.

"The situation is relatively calm, but sporadic violence in certain areas may worsen."

Continued violence

After the announcement of the partial cabinet, thousands of ethnic Kikuyu's have left their homes in the town of Kisumu in a week of riots and ethnic clashes that saw buildings burnt to the ground and more than 500 people killed across the country.
 
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The UN says 250,000 Kenyans have been displaced by post-election violence, and aid groups have warned of a potential health emergency in makeshift camps in schools, hospitals and churches in the Rift Valley region of western Kenya, as well as Nairobi's slums.

At least 24 tonnes of blankets and soap intended for refugees from Somalia have been used to help displaced Kenyans, the UN said.

As diplomatic activity continues in Nairobi, Kenyan police fired tear gas to disperse more than 100 female opposition supporters marching towards a church in the capital, Nairobi.
  
David Kerini, a police commander, said: "They had not notified police about the demonstration.

"We asked them to disperse peacefully, which they refused and we were forced to fire tear gas."
  
Jacqueline Oduol, the chairman of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) women's league, said: "We are calling for truth about what happened to our votes and the votes of Kenyans."

Electoral commission accused

Meanwhile, Kenyans for Peace with Truth and Justice, an umbrella of civil society groups formed after the elections, presented a list of alleged charges to police against electoral commissioners and some staff.

At least 500 people have been killed in
ethnic and tribal clashes [AFP]
The charges include forgery, subverting the rule of law, making out false certificates and the abuse of office.

The groups called for the prosecution of all 22 members of the Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK) and some commission staff, including vote counters.

Shailja Patel, a member of Kenyans for Peace, which includes the state-funded Kenyan National Commission on Human Rights and the Law Society of Kenya, said: "The electoral process is so seriously flawed that, until that is redressed, and until we have truth and justice about the election, we are not going to have a viable society in Kenya."

But Kibaki said in a speech on Wednesday that he considered questions about the vote and the count "closed".
Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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