Tuesday, February 26, 2008

More headlines - Tues 2/26/2008

Google News Alert for: Kenya
Tues 2/26/2008 - 3:30 p.m.
Some of these articles appear below list, with full text:

Annan Tries to Spur Kenya Talks
New York Times - United States
By JEFFREY GETTLEMAN NAIROBI, Kenya — Kofi Annan suspended day-to-day mediation talks in Kenya on Tuesday and said that he would now take up the remaining ...
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Obama turban photo causes stir
Toronto Star - Ontario, Canada
The Associated Press photograph portrays Obama wearing a white turban and a wraparound white robe presented to him by elders in Wajir, in northeastern Kenya ...
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US Disappointed Over Kenya Impasse, Weighs Penalties
Voice of America - USA
By David Gollust The United States is expressing disappointment over the continued political impasse in Kenya following last December's disputed election. ...
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Annan Suspends Talks to End Kenya Crisis
Newsday - Long Island,NY,USA
NAIROBI, Kenya - Mediator Kofi Annan said he has suspended talks between Kenya's government and the opposition to end the country's deadly postelection ...
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Kenya's finmin maintains 7 per cent GDP forecast for '08
Economic Times - Gurgaon,Haryana,India
26 Feb, 2008, 2005 hrs IST, PTI NAIROBI: Kenya's finance minister maintained the government's 7 per cent GDP growth projection for 2008 and said on Tuesday ...
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Annan Tries to Spur Kenya Talks - NY Times

Published: February 27, 2008

NAIROBI, KenyaKofi Annan suspended day-to-day mediation talks in Kenya on Tuesday and said that he would now take up the remaining divisive issues with Kenya’s leaders directly.

Mr. Annan, the former United Nations secretary general, seems to be growing increasingly frustrated with the pace of the negotiations, which have ground on for more than a month and are intended to solve a political crisis in Kenya that has cost more than 1,000 lives.

“We cannot continue on the current basis,” said Mr. Annan, who is shepherding the talks. “It’s important for the leaders themselves to take charge.”

Mr. Annan said it was crucial to reach a comprehensive solution and not “a patch-up job.” Kenya’s troubles started in late December after the national election commission declared Mwai Kibaki, the incumbent, the winner of a presidential election over Raila Odinga, the top opposition leader, despite widespread evidence of vote rigging. The turmoil that followed pitted supporters of Mr. Odinga against those of Mr. Kibaki in brutal battles that spread across the country and split many areas along ethnic lines. Mr. Odinga and Mr. Kibaki are from different ethnic groups, and the election seems to have kicked the lid off simmering political, ethnic and economic issues.

Mr. Annan has been meeting nearly every day with negotiators for Mr. Kibaki and Mr. Odinga, searching for a political compromise that will calm the country. Mr. Annan said Tuesday that he was not giving up, but that a conclusion would be reached much faster by bypassing the negotiators and speaking with Mr. Kibaki and Mr. Odinga themselves.

The two sides have agreed on many points. Last week, the government acquiesced to the opposition’s demand to create a position of prime minister for Mr. Odinga, who claims to have won the election.

But this week the two sides seem to have split over the details of that position, and Mr. Annan said that barely any progress was made on Tuesday. The talks seem to alternate between promising and hopeless, and whenever progress is blocked, the two sides start hurling accusations at each other, as they did on Tuesday.

The government now claims that the opposition is refusing to budge. From the government’s perspective, it has conceded much. Mr. Kibaki’s team rejects the accusations that the government rigged the elections to keep Mr. Kibaki in power, as some election observers have suggested. Mr. Kibaki’s team believes that offering the opposition posts in the government is a generous compromise.

“We tend to feel we have been railroaded,” said Mutula Kilonzo, a negotiator for the government.

But the opposition says the government has been stubborn, and that beneath all the talk it does not want to share power in a meaningful way.

“We have been extremely frustrated,” said Musalia Mudavadi, an opposition leader. “There are moments we believe we have made ground, but we realize the following day that there is a reversal.”

The pressure for a deal is steadily increasing. Opposition leaders have threatened to resume nationwide protests on Thursday, and such events have turned bloody before. Foreign powers, like the United States, are demanding that Kenya’s leaders find a political solution fast.

On Tuesday, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice issued a threatening statement saying, “There can be no excuse for further delay.”

“We are exploring a wide range of possible actions,” she said. “We will draw our own conclusions about who is responsible for lack of progress and take necessary steps.”

Kennedy Abwao contributed reporting.


US Disappointed Over Kenya Impasse, Weighs Penalties - Voice of America

By David Gollust Washington
26 February 2008

Gollust report - Download (MP3)
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The United States is expressing disappointment over the continued political impasse in Kenya following last December's disputed election. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says the Bush administration is considering penalties against those responsible. VOA's David Gollust reports from the State Department.

U.S. frustration was reflected in a written statement by Secretary Rice, who said she is disappointed by the failure of Kenya's leaders to resolve remaining issues, and that there is no excuse for further delay or any more violence.

Rice, who is traveling in Asia, issued the statement after a telephone conversation with former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who has been trying to mediate the dispute and has now suspended his talks with the rival parties.

Rice went to Kenya a week ago at the request of President Bush and met with both President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga, whose party claims the December vote was rigged. Post-election violence has killed at least 1,000 people and displaced hundreds of thousands more.

The Secretary said both leaders assured her then of their commitment to work out a power-sharing plan, and that she in turn had pledged additional U.S. assistance to help Kenya rebuild, reconcile, and carry out reforms.

In a clear warning to the parties, Rice said the future of the U.S. relationship with both sides, and their legitimacy, hinges on their cooperation in achieving a political solution, and that the United States is exploring a wide range of possible actions. She said U.S. officials will draw their own conclusions about who is responsible for the lack of progress, and take "necessary steps."

In a talk with reporters, State Department Deputy Spokesman Tom Casey declined specifics, but said there are a number of punitive steps available to underline U.S. displeasure over the state of affairs in Kenya:

"I do not want to define it for you, anymore than to say that you have heard from us previously that we cannot conduct business as usual in the absence of an agreement among the parties, and we will be looking at a full range of options that are on the table," said Casey."There are a lot of tools in the tool kit."

Casey noted the United States has already sent letters to several Kenyan political figures, believed to have incited post election violence, warning them they may be declared ineligible to travel to the United States.

The spokesman did not rule out cuts in the U.S. aid program to Kenya.

But he said the great majority of that program is devoted to basic humanitarian projects including dealing with HIV/AIDS. He said no one in Washington believes the Kenyan people should be punished for the failure of their political leaders.


Annan Suspends Talks to End Kenya Crisis - AP

By ELIZABETH A. KENNEDY Associated Press Writer
1:51 PM EST, February 26, 2008

NAIROBI, Kenya - Mediator Kofi Annan suspended negotiations on Kenya's deadly postelection crisis and said Tuesday he would personally appeal for a power-sharing deal because talks were "turning around in circles."

Annan said he would consult with President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga, who are being pressed to share power and move Kenya beyond a dispute over who won the Dec. 27 presidential election.International and local monitors say the ballot results were manipulated, making it unclear who actually won.

Related links
Path of destruction in Kenya Video

Annan said he suspended the talks in order "to speed up action," as the negotiating teams "were discussing issues that the parties seemed incapable of solving. We were turning around in circles."

Postelection violence has largely subsided in recent weeks, but attacks that killed more than 1,000 people and forced 600,000 from their homes have left the country on edge and worried about the potential for more turmoil. The bloodshed has tarnished the reputation of a country once seen as a beacon of stability in Africa.

International pressure on the two sides has been mounting.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who visited Kenya earlier this month to urge progress, said the U.S. relationship with any future Kenyan political leadership is at stake.

"I want to emphasize that the future of our relationship with both sides and their legitimacy hinges on their cooperation to achieve this political solution," Rice said in a statement, without elaborating.

Kenyan Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetangula criticized Rice's statement, saying the international community is welcome to make suggestions "but not to impose solutions."

The United States was disappointed that talks had had to be suspended, and will review the "full range of options" it might take, State Department spokesman Tom Casey said. He declined to discuss any specifics.

The delays have frustrated Kenyans, many of whom have seen their jobs and homes destroyed in the chaos.

"It is Raila and Kibaki alone who can solve this thing," said Ronnie Mdwawida, a 39-year-old social worker in the capital, Nairobi. "The future of Kenya is at the mercy of these two leaders."

Negotiators for Kibaki and Odinga have agreed in principle to create a new prime minister's post for the opposition, but sticking points remain over just how much power such a post would carry.Government negotiator Mutula Kilonzo said he objected to Annan's decision to suspend talks.

"We were making progress until tempers flared in the afternoon, but this is part of negotiations," he said.

Opposition negotiator Musalia Mudavadi said his party remains committed to the talks. "They have been suspended, and if the timing is right and we are required to get back to the negotiating table, we shall be there," he said.

Odinga's Orange Democratic Movement, meanwhile, filed papers Monday giving police the required three days' notice for mass rallies planned Thursday, raising fears of bloodshed. Past rallies turned violent as police pushed back the crowds.The government on Tuesday urged Kenyans to boycott the rallies.

Throughout the talks, low-level unrest has continued and Kenya's economy has struggled to recover from a severe drop in tourist dollars during the high season.

Adding more international pressure for a deal, Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, the current head of the African Union, arrived in Nairobi on Tuesday to support the mediation process and meet with all sides.

Associated Press writers Tom Maliti, Heidi Vogt and Tom Odula contributed to this report


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