‘No progress’ as talks in Kenya suspended

February 27th, 2008 - 12:46 am ICT by admin  

Nairobi, Feb 26 (DPA) Talks to end Kenya’s crisis over disputed elections were suspended Tuesday after mediator and former United Nations secretary general Kofi Annan said there had been a second day without any progress. “The talks have not broken down. The talks are still on but I’m taking steps to ensure that we accelerate the process and give peace to the people as soon as possible,” a visibly annoyed Annan told reporters.

He called on President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga to give their negotiators clear instructions on how to proceed or else to directly involve themselves in the talks.

“It’s important that the leaders themselves take charge. This is not about the fortunes of political parties or individuals. This is about Kenya and the region,” he said.

Annan cut the talks short Monday as well, stressing the parties were “not capable of resolving outstanding issues”, and opted instead to meet Kibaki and Odinga, telling them the decisions were in their hands.

A source close to the talks said that Annan threatened to pull out if the “foot dragging” continued, even after promising earlier to stay the course.

The source, who asked for anonymity, said Annan chided the lack of “political goodwill” amongst both sides, which contributed to the delay in a solution.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who met with Kenyan leaders on a lightning trip to the country last week, on Tuesday pressed again for a solution to the crisis, warning that Washington was exploring actions it could take against those stalling.

Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) has also demanded a 50-50 split in cabinet postings, including important ministries like finance and foreign affairs, but the government has all but refused the request.

ODM has pledged to call its supporters to the streets in peaceful protests if its demands are not met and a rally is planned for Thursday.

Much hangs on the success of the talks, with ethnic-based militias said to be arming themselves and more violence expected if the negotiations fail.

Police arrested some 200 youths in the western town of Kitale who were believed to be undergoing military training on a private farm, media reports said.

Relative calm has returned to Kenya after protests and ethnic clashes gripped the country for most of last month, paralysing the economy and killing over 1,000 people.

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