Annan says no Kenyan deal yet
Annan says no Kenyan deal yet
By TOM ODULA, Associated Press Writer 4 minutes ago
Former U.N. chief Kofi Annan, who is mediating talks between Kenya's political rivals, said Friday they were making progress on a deal to end weeks of postelection bloodshed but no power-sharing agreement had been reached yet.
Earlier, opposition lawmaker William Ruto claimed the two sides would form a joint government but were still discussing who would lead it and what roles each party would play. But Annan said that "was jumping the gun."
"We are making progress," Annan said, noting that both President Mwai Kibaki and his rival Raila Odinga had agreed that Kenya needs a "political settlement" to the crisis.
More than 1,000 people have been killed and 300,000 driven from their homes in fighting since the Dec. 27 election that has often pitted many of the East African country's myriad ethnic groups against one another.
International and domestic observers heavily criticized the vote tallying process.
Odinga originally said that only new elections would bring peace, while Kibaki maintained his position as president was not negotiable. The two came under international pressure to form a power-sharing government.
On Thursday, Odinga retreated from his earlier calls that Kibaki should step down.
"We are saying that we are willing to give and take. Initially our stand was that we won the elections, and Mr. Kibaki lost the elections, he should resign, and we should be sworn in, but we have said that we are not static on that point," Odinga told reporters.
Annan said Friday he hoped they would complete their work by early next week, but declined to give further details on what form the settlement might take.
"We had a very good session today. There is no doubt about it. And I think it gives grounds for optimism .... But, the issues are still on the table and we will go back to them on Monday."
The two sides had agreed to call a meeting of parliament next week so that lawmakers could be briefed on progress, Annan added.
Speaking at a prayer meeting in Nairobi earlier Friday, Kibaki said he was "encouraged" by progress in talks and reiterated "my personal support and that of my entire government to this process."
But some opposition supporters insist they will not back down until Odinga is named president.
"We won, we can't agree. We want our rights, we will go back to the streets," said Evans Omogi, a driver in the western city of Kisumu, the scene of much of the worst violence.
Meanwhile, around 5,000 people fled a makeshift camp for those displaced by the violence in the western town Kericho, fearing violence ahead of Saturday's funeral for an opposition lawmaker slain last week. Only about 1,000 people were left in the camp, said Red Cross official Susan Onyango.
Kericho's main street was packed with families hastily piling furniture onto government lorries provided to take them to areas where their ethnic group was predominant.
The slain legislator was killed in what the opposition described as a political assassination, but which police said was a crime of passion by a traffic policeman who believed his girlfriend was involved with the politician. The killing had sparked attacks on the policeman's ethnic group, the Kisii.
On Thursday, the U.S. added to the international pressure by threatening to bar Kenyan politicians and businessmen alleged to have played a role in the bloodshed from visiting the United States, a move that "hit a nerve," the U.S. ambassador said.
Politicians and businessmen are among those accused of financing or backing the violence.
"People are paying 4,000 shillings ($60) to burn down a house," U.S. Ambassador Michael Ranneberger said in an interview.
Washington sent letters to 10 politicians and businessmen suspected of supporting or inciting violence, Ranneberger said. U.S. State Department spokesman Tom Casey said the letters were sent to eight people. The discrepancy could not immediately be explained. Both declined to name the targets but Ranneberger said the review also would affect the immediate families of those affected.
Casey said the visa reviews probably would take place over the next few days and were directed at "more regional figures" than top officials from both major political movements. Ranneberger said the U.S. could target top officials if the violence that has devastated the economy and undermined Kenya's democratic credentials continued.
Both Kibaki's government and the opposition welcomed the U.S. decision and insisted they had nothing to do with the violence. But Kenyan human rights groups, foreign observers and diplomats say there is ample evidence that both parties helped incite and orchestrate attacks.
Associated Press writers Katy Pownall in Kericho, and Matthew Rosenberg and Malkhadir M. Muhumed in Nairobi contributed to this report.
Copyright © 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. The information contained in the AP News report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press.
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