Monday, February 11, 2008

More Headlines - Mon 2/11/2008

Four stories from Reuters, and the current Google News links for Kenya.

Annan hopes for Kenya talks result in 2-3 days

Mon 11 Feb 2008, 19:23 GMT
(adds details)

NAIROBI, Feb 11 (Reuters) - Former U.N. boss Kofi Annan has invited Kenya's feuding political parties to continue talks at a hidden location outside Nairobi, with the aim of reaching an agreement within two or three days, a spokesman said on Monday.

"During this period he has asked for a complete news blackout," added a statement from the spokesman for Annan, who is mediating the post-election crisis in Kenya.

With hopes soaring for a political solution to one of Kenya's darkest moments since independence, Annan has been chiding the media for speculation and officials on both sides for leaking details of a possible power-sharing deal.

"Kofi Annan ... today invited the negotiating teams to resume discussions outside of Nairobi with the goal of reaching agreement on the outstanding political issues in the next 48-72 hours," the statement said.

"He has urged the parties not to discuss issues under negotiation with anyone outside the negotiating room."

The statement added that "at an appropriate time", his mediation team will issue a statement "to announce the outcome of these confidential talks". (Reporting by Andrew Cawthorne)

© Reuters 2008. All Rights Reserved.

Africa minister hopeful of Kenya deal

Mon 11 Feb 2008, 19:23 GMT
By Adrian Croft

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain is cautiously hopeful Kenya's rival political parties can reach a power-sharing deal this week although there is still "a mountain to be climbed", Africa Minister Mark Malloch-Brown said on Monday.

Malloch-Brown said he had spoken on Sunday to former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who is mediating in a crisis triggered by President Mwai Kibaki's disputed re-election.

The December 27 vote sparked turmoil which has killed more than 1,000 people and uprooted 300,000.

The minister said Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga were moving closer. Negotiators for them held talks on Monday in a mood of optimism that a solution to Kenya's worst crisis since independence from Britain in 1963 may be near.

Malloch-Brown told Reuters in an interview the Monday meetings had been "critical".

"Can, beyond that, the leaders outside the (negotiating) room and all of their constituencies, which in both cases includes some pretty radical elements ... be brought into agreement?" he said.

Malloch-Brown said he was "cautiously hopeful" of an agreement this week. "I think there is still quite a mountain to be climbed to get both sides really to sign on to this."

He said he expected a proposed agreement to call for power-sharing until a new election. Reforms to the constitution and election commission would be made before the vote.

Malloch-Brown said the crisis could do lasting damage to Kenya's reputation unless the solution tackled underlying problems such as inequality and the concentration of power.

Events in neighbouring Chad, where President Idriss Deby this month repelled a rebel offensive, had added "a new element of concern and instability" to the situation in Sudan's Darfur region, Malloch-Brown said.

Asked about the threat of a regional conflict involving Chad and Sudan, he said the situation was "getting very dangerous".

He said he would head to New York later this week to try to speed up the deployment of a United Nations-African Union peacekeeping force to Darfur.

The U.N. Security Council approved the operation last July but only 9,000 of the 26,000 troops and police required have so far been deployed.

Malloch-Brown said the force would not be fully deployed until "well into the latter part of the year".

(Editing by Andrew Roche)
© Reuters 2008. All Rights Reserved.

U.N. postal body says cancelled congress in Kenya

Mon 11 Feb 2008, 17:12 GMT

BERNE, Feb 11 (Reuters) - The United Nations' Universal Postal Union (UPU) said on Monday it had decided not to hold its four-yearly Congress in Kenya later this year because of the security situation in the country.

The three-week long gathering attended by some 1,500 delegates from 191 countries which was to have been held from Aug. 13 to Sept. 3 in Nairobi, will be switched to Geneva, and will take place from mid-July to early August.

A dispute over December presidential elections has triggered a wave of violence in Kenya that killed more than 1,000 people and uprooted 300,000. The violence has subsided in recent days but Kenya's image as a stable country has been badly damaged.

"The situation in Kenya currently prevents the UPU International Bureau to work effectively with Kenya in continuing to organise a Congress in Nairobi," an announcement from UPU headquarters in the Swiss capital said.

As a United Nations body, the UPU had to follow U.N. security rules which have currently suspended all non-essential missions to Kenya, the announcement added.

The decision was taken despite a plea from Kenya's Minister of Information and Communication Samuel Poghisio to the UPU's governing Council of Administration in Berne not to move the Congress, who argued that the situation had stabilised in his country.

But the UPU announcement said the Council also recommended that Kenya still chair the Geneva meeting and hold the Council chairmanship from 2009 to 2012. It said Nairobi would be promoted as the venue for a UPU conference in 2010.

The UPU, or Universal Postal Union, is the oldest U.N. agency, having been set up in 1874 in Berne and is the primary international forum for cooperation and rule-setting between post administrations around the globe. (Reporting by Robert Evans; Editing by Jonathan Lynn and Sami Aboudi)

© Reuters 2008. All Rights Reserved.

Kenya shilling strengthens vs dollar, politics helps

Mon 11 Feb 2008, 9:47 GMT

NAIROBI (Reuters) - The Kenya shilling firmed against the dollar on Monday, buoyed by sentiment that a solution to the post-election crisis was close, dealers said.

At 0920 GMT, commercial banks quoted the local unit at 70.25/45 to the dollar, compared with Friday's close of 72.10/20.

On Friday former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, who is leading a team mediating talks to resolve an impasse arising from a disputed election, said for the first time that feuding parties may attain a breakthrough within days.

This sentiment carried over to trade on Monday, dealers said. "It's just interbank (activity). Nothing much is happening on the corporate side. It's just sentiment. People were expecting a political solution soon," said Benson Kaburu, a senior dealer at Standard Chartered Bank.

Talks to resolve the stalemate over the December 27 presidential vote resumed on Monday, with both sides expressing optimism that a political solution was close.

Violence that erupted following the announcement that President Mwai Kibaki had won the election has killed more than 1,000 people and displaced 300,000. His main opponent Raila Odinga said he rigged the election.

Annan's team has brought together the two sides and both parties are reported to have softened their hardline positions.

Odinga's Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) is no longer seeking Kibaki's resignation, while Kibaki's Party of National Unity has dropped its demand that ODM seeks redress in court.

"The market is trying to interpret positively the efforts of the mediation. People are hopeful that there's something positive that is going to come out," said Mwambu Malamba, a dealer at Commercial Bank of Africa.

The shilling is expected to trade in the 69.00-72.00 range against the dollar in the next few days, dealers said.
Unrest has subsided in recent days, but it has led to a downturn in major foreign exchange earners such as tourism and horticulture.

For special coverage from Reuters Africa Web site see:

© Reuters 2008. All Rights Reserved.

Google News Alert for: Kenya

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