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Kenyan rivals strike deal to try and stop violence

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20080201/ts_nm/kenya_crisis_dc;_ylt=Ak7HQct9bxIyxhE6pR6IWlCs0NUE Kenyan rivals strike deal to try and stop violence By Duncan Miriri
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 1, 2008
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      http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20080201/ts_nm/kenya_crisis_dc;_ylt=Ak7HQct9bxIyxhE6pR6IWlCs0NUE

      Kenyan rivals strike deal to try and stop violence

      By Duncan Miriri 1 hour, 11 minutes ago

      NAIROBI (Reuters) - Kenya's government and opposition
      struck an agreement on Friday to take immediate steps
      to try and end tribal bloodshed in a five-week-old
      political standoff in which about 850 people have been
      killed.

      The agreement was brokered by former U.N. head Kofi
      Annan, leading an African mediation mission to resolve
      the standoff that began when a December 27 poll
      returned President Mwai Kibaki to power. Opposition
      leader Raila Odinga says the vote was rigged.

      Annan said the two sides would discuss how to stop the
      violence, delivery of humanitarian aid and how to end
      the political impasse before tackling a longer term
      solution in Kenya, East Africa's biggest economy and a
      popular tourist spot.

      "The first (agenda item) is to take immediate action
      to stop the violence," Annan told a news conference,
      adding that both sides would get round the negotiating
      table from Monday.

      "But more importantly, the parties agreed that the
      first three items (on the agenda) could be handled and
      resolved within 7 to 15 days," said Annan.

      U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon flew into Nairobi
      on Friday from an African Union summit in Addis Ababa
      to add his heavyweight diplomatic clout to his
      predecessor's efforts.

      "The killing must stop," said Ban, echoing the alarm
      expressed by world leaders at seeing Kenya, long
      viewed as a peacemaker on a volatile continent, plunge
      into turmoil. Kenya is a key ally of the West in its
      efforts to counter al Qaeda.

      "You have lost already too much in terms of national
      image, economic interest," said Ban.

      Senior opposition official Musalia Mudavadi said the
      two sides agreed to urge supporters to end the
      violence.

      "We are calling on the public to disband any illegal
      militia," he said.

      Justice Minister Martha Karua agreed and said steps
      would be taken to protect life and property.

      Violence was reported in flashpoints in western Kenya
      on Friday.

      "I saw around 20 torched houses ... and two policemen
      with arrow wounds. At least 10 people have died from
      both sides," said a local journalist, who declined to
      be named.

      More than 300,000 Kenyans are living as refugees
      because the violence has forced them to flee their
      homes.

      GENOCIDE ACCUSATIONS

      Both sides have traded accusations of genocide in the
      fighting, which has often pitted Kibaki's Kikuyu tribe
      -- long-dominant in political and business life in
      East Africa's biggest economy -- and Odinga's Luo
      tribe against each other.

      The unrest has taken the lid off decades-old divisions
      between tribal groupings over land, wealth and power,
      dating from British colonial rule and stoked by Kenyan
      politicians during 44 years of independence.

      Kibaki says he is Kenya's elected leader but
      international observers said the count was so chaotic
      it was impossible to tell who won.

      Earlier on Friday before the Annan-brokered agreement,
      Kibaki took an uncompromising line over the turmoil in
      his country and diplomats said Africa was divided over
      the standoff.

      Speakers on the first day of the AU summit on Thursday
      called for urgent action to stop the violence,
      stepping up pressure on Kibaki and Odinga to find a
      negotiated solution.

      But in two speeches on Friday, to the summit and a
      separate meeting of the East African regional grouping
      IGAD, Kibaki repeatedly attacked the opposition and
      stuck to positions already rejected by Odinga.

      He said he had been elected by a majority of Kenyans,
      firmly put the blame for deaths on Odinga's Orange
      Democratic Movement (ODM) and said the dispute must be
      settled by Kenya's courts.

      Odinga rejects a solution through the courts on
      grounds that they are stacked with Kibaki allies and
      would take years to issue a ruling.

      The 53 member nations of the AU seemed divided over
      Kenya.

      "There are divisions between one group who see
      themselves in Kibaki's situation and another that has
      told him in no uncertain terms that this is not
      acceptable," said one Western diplomat, adding that
      South Africa was in the latter group.

      South Africa says Kenya's crisis will be a disaster
      for the continent if not resolved quickly.

      The United States and European countries have pledged
      their support for Annan's mediation efforts. Donors
      have said aid programs to Kenya are under review.

      (Additional reporting by Andrew Cawthorne, Bryson Hull
      and Tim Cocks in Nairobi, David Lewis in Eldoret,
      Writing by Tim Cocks; Editing by Ralph Gowling)

      For special coverage from Reuters Africa Web site see:

      http://africa.reuters.com/elections/kenya/
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