Thursday, February 21, 2008

Today's Headlines - Thurs 2/21/2008

1 - Kenya government agrees in principle to PM post – Reuters
2 - PNU/ODM ‘largely agree’ Govt structure - Nation
3 - ODM threatens mass action over talks – Nation
4 - Annan hails Kenya talks progress - BBC
5 - Kenyan rivals debate power sharing amid new troubles - AFP
6 - Kenya: Citizens for Truth Commission But Say Delink It From Politicians
7 - Kenya: Two Suspects in MP's Killing Arrested - Nation
More headlines follow from Google News Alerts - Kenya

1 - Kenya government agrees in principle to PM post

Thu Feb 21, 2008 9:06am EST
By Duncan Miriri and C. Bryson Hull

NAIROBI (Reuters) - Kenya's government said on Thursday it agreed in principle to creating a prime minister's post demanded by the opposition, a possible breakthrough in a political crisis some worry could explode into violence again.

Local and international pressure has grown for a deal to end the standoff over President Mwai Kibaki's disputed re-election on December 27. The opposition has threatened to resume street protests next week if its demands are not met.

Though the east African nation has been relatively calm for the last two weeks, the protest threat stoked fears of a resumption of the post-poll violence that killed at least 1,000 people and forced more than 300,000 out of their homes.

The unrest has damaged Kenya's reputation as a trade and tourism hub and one of Africa's most stable nations, usually the host of peace talks rather than the subject of them.

The African Union's new chairman, Jean Ping, flew into Kenya on Thursday to add his diplomatic weight to the crisis talks led by the former U.N. secretary general, Kofi Annan.

"I'm beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel," Annan said in a statement after talks on Thursday.

Both teams were to meet with their leaders on "a joint proposal that had been largely agreed on the governance structure" before returning on Friday, the statement said.

Government negotiator Mutula Kilonzo earlier said the creation of a prime minister's post was the focus.

"That is more or less agreed on. What we are discussing now is the post's functions, responsibilities, nature of appointment and so on," he told Reuters. "This will be an interim measure."

Opposition leader Raila Odinga would be almost sure to take the post. He says Kibaki in the past reneged on a pledge to give him such a post in exchange for support at the 2002 election.

Asked if the job would have executive powers, Kilonzo said: "We will not give anybody a hollow shell."

The opposition has demanded the post, wanting it to have real power, and a 50-50 split in cabinet jobs including what it views as top-tier ministries like finance and internal security.

A senior opposition official said there were two potential forms of the prime minister job being discussed.

"One of them is some sort of chief minister ... or there is a head of government who is answerable to parliament. You have a real separation of powers," the official said.

Kilonzo said the interim post would come with a sunset clause that causes the position to expire either when parliament is dissolved or when a new constitution is enacted.

He said he expected the discussions over a political deal to be finished "at the very latest by the weekend."

Both sides have agreed on the need for changes to Kenya's 45-year-old constitution, which many criticize because nearly all the powers rest with the president.

"You're a demi-god. It allows impunity. You can appoint anyone, everyone, you can sack people at will, appoint your relatives," former anti-graft adviser John Githongo, a government critic, said at a speech in London on Wednesday.

The crisis laid bare issues of land, ethnicity, wealth and power that have dogged Kenya since the British colonial era, and have been habitually exploited by politicians over the decades.

The International Crisis Group think-tank, in a new report on Thursday, warned people not to be fooled by the relative calm in Kenya. "The situation remains highly volatile ... Armed groups are still mobilizing on both sides," it said.

(Additional reporting by Jack Kimball and Andrew Cawthorne, editing by Andrew Cawthorne)
© Reuters 2007. All rights reserved.

2 - PNU/ODM ‘largely agree’ Govt structure - Nation
Story by LUCAS BARASA in Nairobi and KEVIN J. KELLEY in New York
Publication Date: 2/21/2008

Hopes of Kenya’s political rivals reaching a deal to end the country’s crisis heightened today with chief mediator Kofi Annan announcing that there was “finally light at the end of the tunnel”.

A statement from Mr Annan’s office said the parties had “largely agreed” the structure of a coalition government.

At the same time, the US offered an optimistic assessment of the status of talks between President Kibaki’s Party of National Unity and Mr Raila Odinga’s Orange Democratic Party.

"We have seen progress made through [former UN secretary general] Kofi Annan's efforts, working with the parties," State Department spokesman Tom Casey told reporters in Washington. "They do have an overall framework agreement."

Mr Casey suggested patience is needed as the two sides try to finalise an accord.

"Sometimes the most difficult part of the process is having the details of some kind of a broader government and the organisation of it, who gets what ministries and all that, sometimes takes a while to work out," he said.

But the US left no doubt that it expects a deal to be reached soon to end the violence and instability that have plagued Kenya for nearly two months.

“We certainly look forward to see an agreement reached among the parties in the next few days," Mr Casey said.

In Nairobi, Mr Annan said: “I’m beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel."

A negotiator for the Government side, Mr Mutula Kilonzo, told reporters the two sides had reached a “balanced agreement” that could be sealed tomorrow or before the end of the week to provide short term solutions to problems in the country.

Mr Kilonzo said although the negotiators who burnt the midnight oil on Wednesday to complete discussion on how to address the disputed presidential election had settled on a balanced agreement, not everybody will support it.

"The agreement spreads the government to other parties," he said.

"We are now going to consult our parties and principals. We will finish that agenda tomorrow," said the Mbooni MP.

On his part, Mr Annan, in a statement through spokesman Ega-Musa Nasser, said that the talks were suspended to allow the negotiating teams time to consult with their constituents on the draft joint proposal.

"The Legal Working Group will meet tomorrow morning at 8.30am to try and conclude their work, and then will report to the full negotiating team at its 15th session beginning at 10 am," Mr Annan said.

Mr Annan quoted facilitator Hans Corell from Sweden as saying considerable progress had been made in the legal working group.

The group, the statement said, had outlined a joint proposal that had been largely agreed on the governance structure, the only outstanding issue under Agenda Item 3 (How to overcome the current political crisis).

3 - ODM threatens mass action over talks - Nation
Publication Date: 2/21/2008
Orange Democratic Movement Wednesday threatened mass action if Parliament is not summoned in a week to enact necessary constitutional changes to pave the way for implementation of its proposals to end the stalemate.

The party accused rival PNU of deliberately delaying the mediation talks.

In a statement issued after a parliamentary group meeting (PGM) at the Old Chambers of Parliament, ODM said PNU’s insistence that proposals be within the confines of the Constitution was meant to frustrate the ongoing talks.

ODM Pentagon member Najib Balala said ODM was becoming impatient. “We have been patient as ODM from the extreme position to a middle ground.

But we are tired of delays and excuses that a political settlement could not be reached,” he said.

Wednesday’s meeting, attended by 45 party MPs, was chaired by Mr Balala and party secretary-general Anyang Nyong’o.

The meeting comes a day after President Kibaki said he was ready to work and share Government responsibilities with ODM, but within the current Constitution.

He also proposed a comprehensive constitutional review within 12 months. The President said a solution should be in tandem with the existing Constitution while a new one was being written.

And in a swift reaction, head of the mediation talks Mr Kofi Annan Wednesday issued a stern warning to ODM and PNU leaders to stop making statements that could interfere with the negotiations.

The former UN Secretary General also directed his staff to monitor the media and report to him any statements issued to the press by either party.

Mr Annan’s statement came just hours after ODM threat of mass protests.

PNU politicians have also issued various statements regarding the talks and criticised proposals by Mr Annan and the international community on the formation of a grand coalition to end the crisis.

Delicate negotiation
On Wednesday Mr Annan in a statement through UN official Musa Nasser said both PNU and ODM politicians should refrain from making statements that could jeopardise the discussions

“The chair once again appeals to both sides to refrain from making public statements or using rhetoric that can complicate already delicate negotiation,” said Mr Annan.

The chief mediator however said the talks were progressing well despite the discouraging reports by ODM and PNU.

He said: “The chair wishes to assure the public that the talks are going on well and we are on track.”

But Wednesday, Mr Balala accused PNU of arrogance. “They don’t believe this country has a crisis. They are not in a hurry. They want to rule and steal what they have lost in 24 years,” he said.

The Mvita MP added: “We are being pressured by our people; if the negotiations are not working, then we change the terms of reference of the negotiations to discuss boundaries then we reduce them to an island like Lesotho.”

Mr Balala said the PGM resolved to give the mediation team one week to see whether anything concrete will come out. They plan to meet again on Wednesday to prepare for mass action at the end of next week.

“They think ODM is desperate to get into Government. No, ODM is only desperate to give Kenyans the dream of effective equitable distribution of resources and devolution of power... this is not about Mr (Raila) Odinga and President Kibaki,” he said.

Prof Nyong’o accused PNU of procrastination and ignoring the urgency of arriving at a solution.

“They are pretending that there is a legitimate government even though this is one of the issues at stake. We are impatient and MPs are tired. We have tried to be decent enough to keep quiet to give the talks a chance but we realise that we have no serious partners in PNU,” he said.

Said Mr Balala; “We thought the pressure from the international community would be able to make President Kibaki and his team to be flexible and come to a middle ground but it seems mass action is the only thing they can listen to. We shall therefore revive the power of the people.”

ODM said the insistence by PNU leadership that the mediation proposals must be made only within the confines of the present Constitution was a deliberate strategy to delay decisions at the talks.

The party has, however, appealed to Kenyans to stay steadfast and support the Kofi Annan-led mediation talks.

15-day deadline
The mediation talks started on January 29 following the disputed outcome of last year’s Presidential election results.

Mr Annan had set a 15-day deadline for the negotiators to come up with short-term solutions to the crisis in the country. Anxiety has been mounting both locally and internationally over the delay by ODM and PNU to strike a deal to end the problem.

Additional reporting by Lucas Barasa

4 - Annan hails Kenya talks progress - BBC
Ex-UN chief Kofi Annan has announced considerable progress in talks between Kenya's government and opposition aimed at ending the political crisis.
Talks have been adjourned until Friday, as negotiators consult on a compromise which the BBC's Adam Mynott in Nairobi says has been largely agreed upon.
The deal is understood to involve the creation of a prime minister's post which would be held by the opposition. Some 1,000 people have died in violence since disputed elections in December.
The opposition alleges the poll was rigged. "I am beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel," Mr Annan said after negotiators from President Mwai Kibaki's government and the opposition Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) adjourned their talks on Thursday.
The negotiators are expected to report back with a possible final deal to be signed on Friday. None of the details has been confirmed by Kofi Annan's team, and there have been a number of occasions in the past three weeks when a deal looked close but then disappeared, our correspondent says.

The current uneasy calm in Kenya should not be misunderstood as a return to normalcy
--International Crisis Group report

The rivals have agreed in principle on a grand coalition as a solution to the crisis, but discussions had reached deadlock over how it would work in practice.
The creation of a post of prime minister - which does not exist under the current constitution - was one of the opposition's demands.
Najib Balal, a senior ODM member, told the BBC on Thursday that the opposition would be prepared to accept the post of prime minister provided it carried the necessary authority and power.
Earlier this week, the opposition warned it would launch new mass protests in a week's time if the talks did not break the political deadlock.
Hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced during the ethnic and political violence that broke out after President Kibaki was declared the winner of December's presidential election.
The opposition alleges widespread rigging, and international observers said the poll was flawed.
'Serious obstacles'
The development came as an international think tank warned that further violence could erupt unless a solution to Kenya's political crisis were found urgently.
The International Crisis Group (ICG) said armed groups on both the opposition and government sides were being mobilised for fresh attacks.
The ICG report called for legal, electoral and constitutional reforms and for aid to be conditional on a peaceful result.
The report warned "serious obstacles" to peace remained.
In a BBC interview, the ICG's Donald Steinberg also warned against reaching a short-term political deal without addressing long-term issues.
He said that at the root of the violence were the tribal divide-and-rule policies of Kenya's previous ruler, Daniel arap Moi, which had not been addressed under Mr Kibaki.
"The current uneasy calm in Kenya should not be misunderstood as a return to normalcy," said the report.
The report noted that as Kenya is a platform for relief operations in Somalia and Sudan, a haven for many refugees from the region, and a vital trade hub, failure to resolve the crisis would have "severe consequences" for the whole of east Africa and beyond.
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2008/02/21 11:11:42 GMT © BBC MMVIII
5 - Kenyan rivals debate power sharing amid new troubles - AFP
1 hour ago
NAIROBI (AFP) — Kenya's feuding political leaders on Thursday haggled over a power-sharing deal that could see the opposition given a special prime minister's post, amid new violence in Nairobi.
A man was hacked to death in a slum district and police fired live rounds to disperse residents fighting against eviction from the shanty.
African Union Commission chief Jean Ping arrived for a two-day visit to push for a quick deal, a foreign ministry official said as representatives of President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga pursued talks mediated by former UN chief Kofi Annan.
Government negotiator Mutula Kilonzo said the two sides had agreed to create a post of "a non-executive prime minister but with substantial responsibilities."
"We have agreed on the post, but we all know the devil is in the detail. The deal will have to be brought to the whole negotiating committee," another negotiator added.
The United States and other international bodies have pushed for a swift power-sharing accord but Kibaki has insisted it must be within he Kenyan constitution.
Annan is leading African Union-sponsored mediation efforts after Odinga accused Kibaki of rigging the December 27 presidential election.
More than 1,000 people have been killed and 300,000 displaced in unrest since then. International poll monitors have also said there were irregularities in the vote.
On Wednesday, Odinga's Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) vowed fresh protests if parliament fails to meet within one week to debate constitutional changes.
The ODM accuses the government of using the current constitution to block the talks. Attempts by ODM supporters to protest last month ended in a police crackdown, which drew howls of condemnation from the rights groups.
The Brussels-based International Crisis Group warned Wednesday that hardliners from both camps were preparing fresh hostilities and urged targeted sanctions against the East African nation to head off further violence.
"Serious obstacles remain however. Armed groups are still mobilising on both camps," the panel said in a new report titled: "Kenya in crisis."
"Extremists and militia are preparing for new confrontation on both camps and ODM believes that if international mediation fails, its only protection against repression and hope for a settlement will be its capacity to raise the stakes through violence," the report added.
A man was hacked to death and four others wounded in a crowded Nairobi slum as police battled residents resisting eviction orders for non-payment of rent, police said. Police fired live round to disperse Nairobi's Ngomongo slums residents, who responded by throwing stones and barricading roads to protest the eviction operation in the middle of the night.
"This man was hacked to death in the morning," police commander Tom Mboya told reporters at the scene where dismembered remains of the man lay.
But residents, who razed a local government office, defended the renewed slum clashes. "We are bitter because they (landlords) are claiming that we do not pay rent, that is why we burnt the chief's office," said John Odero, a Ngomongo resident.
Police say Odinga's supporters have refused to pay rent in the shantytowns since the disputed polls.
The political crisis has tapped into simmering resentment over land, poverty and the dominance of the Kikuyu, Kibaki's tribe, in Kenyan politics and business since independence from Britain in 1963.

6 - Kenya: Citizens for Truth Commission But Say Delink It From Politicians

The Nation (Nairobi)
21 February 2008Posted to the web 21 February 2008
Oliver MathengeNairobi

Members of the public Wednesday differed on whether Kenya was in need of a truth and reconciliation commission following violence triggered by last year's disputed presidential poll results.

A public debate organised by the Kenyan chapter of the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) drew varied responses on whether such a commission should be put in place. The debate at the Aga Khan Walk in Nairobi sought views from members of the public and "Bunge la Wananchi Parliamentarians". Most of the participants were however in agreement that justice must prevail in the country if Kenyans are to coexist.

On power-sharing, which also dominated the debate, participants felt that it was the only way forward for Kenyans to be able to work together.

Preferred candidates
There was however caution among some of the participants that the commission should not be constituted on the basis of last year's poll results.

"Formation of the commission and any reforms that we want should not be done just because our preferred candidates were declared winners or not in last year's elections," said Mr Wilberforce Onyango, a participant. Mr Onyango says civic education should also be given priority.
Another participant, Mr Mark Korir says all previous governments had helped propel injustices in the country. He says colonial masters and the governments that followed propagated the land issues that are at the centre of conflict in the Rift Valley. The province witnessed the highest number of deaths and displacements in the country over the period the post-election violence occurred in the country.

Declared winner
Mr Salim Ganga, a participant, told the forum that the commission was necessary but unlike the mediation process it must focus on those at the grassroots. He said Kenyans must have a say on who sits in the commission if truth, justice and reconciliation are to be achieved.

Mr Patrick Wambugu agreeing with him said that politicians could not be trusted with the setting up and running of such a commission because they had failed in the ongoing mediation talks. The ICJ is in support of formation of such a commission saying it would help bring peace and healing in Kenya, where nearly 1,000 people have been killed and 300,000 others displaced in violence after President Kibaki was declared winner of the General Election.
A programme officer with ICJ, Ms Priscilla Nyokabi, said Kenyans should determine the membership of such as a commission before it is set up and issues it should address.

7 - Kenya: Two Suspects in MP's Killing Arrested - Nation

The Nation (Nairobi)
21 February 2008Posted to the web 21 February 2008

Two people who police believe were part of a gang that killed Embakasi MP Mugabe Were have been arrested. Police commissioner Hussein Ali said detectives investigating the January 29 killing seized the "prime suspect and an accomplice" Wednesday.

However, he said the investigators were yet to establish the motive behind the murder. "It's too early to tell but we do not want to speculate, especially for the purpose of going to court," Maj-Gen Ali said. The latest suspects were tracked by detectives who have been looking for them in Nairobi. The detectives are still looking for the killer weapon, thought to be a pistol.

Mr Were was shot dead at around 12.30am outside his home at the city's Woodley Estate, barely two weeks after he had been sworn in as MP.

Hours later
Three people - two men and a woman - were arrested hours later but were released on Monday last week, just hours before the mandatory 14 days of prosecution elapsed. The law prohibits the police investigating capital offences from holding any person beyond this period unless with the authority of the court. Detectives could not take them to court after establishing that they were not part of the killer gang.

The three were among 15 people who had their accounts recorded by the police. Others include the MP's relatives and attendants at a city restaurant where he was spotted having drinks about an hour before he was shot dead.
Police have not ruled out a political motive in the killing.


Google News Alert for: Kenya
2/21/08 - 4:00 a.m.

Kenya government agrees in principle to PM post
Malaysia Star - Malaysia
By Duncan Miriri and C. Bryson Hull NAIROBI
(Reuters) - Kenya's government said on Thursday it agreed in principle to creating a prime minister's post ...
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Kenya Expects Political Deal by Friday
The Associated Press - NAIROBI, Kenya
(AP) — A political deal to end Kenya's deadly postelection crisis is expected by Friday, a top negotiator for Kenya's government said ...
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Kenya: Don Says Poll Bankrollers Demand Their Pound of Flesh - Washington,USA
A university lecturer Wednesday claimed that shadowy individuals and organisations were controlling politics in Kenya. Dr Charles Otieno said these ...
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Kenya Negotiator: Deal to End Deadly Political Crisis Expected by ...
ABC News - USA
A Kikuyu man is attacked by rioters in the Mathare slum, Nairobi, Kenya, Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2008. Rioters attacked a bus full of people as they faced off ...
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Google News Alert for: Kenya
2/21/08 - 12:00 a.m.

Opposition in Kenya Threatens More Protests
New York Times - United States
By JEFFREY GETTLEMAN NAIROBI, Kenya — Kenya's leading opposition party on Wednesday accused the government of stonewalling in negotiations to resolve the ...
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Kenya warned against fresh clashes - New Delhi,India
Hardliners in Kenya are girding for fresh hostilities, a policy panel warned on Thursday, urging the world to impose targeted sanctions to save the east ...
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Google News Alert for: Kenya
2/20/08 - 9:30 p.m.

Ex-corruption fighter urges reform in Kenya
Reuters South Africa - Johannesburg,South Africa
John Githongo, who quit as Kenya's first anti-corruption adviser in 2005 and later blew the whistle on one of Kenya's biggest graft scandals, ...
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Kenya 'at risk of fresh violence'
BBC News - UK
Further violence could erupt in Kenya unless a solution to the country's political crisis is found urgently, an international think tank has warned. ...
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New Kenya riot as 80 held over unpaid rent
Scotsman - United Kingdom
FRESH riots broke out in Kenya yesterday as angry slum residents confronted police amid claims that they were unfairly arresting people over ...
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Kenya: Supply Shortage Raises Producer Milk Prices in Central - Washington,USAA 500 grams packet of milk is retailing at Sh40 in Western Kenya up from Sh15 late last year. The surge in prices is expected to push up overall 12-month ...
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Kenya: Barclays Profit Minting Machine Under Spotlight - Washington,USA
For five years Adan Mohamed was just happy to run Kenya's biggest bank at an even pace in the traditional British style - where Barclays Bank Kenya draws ...
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Google News Alert for: Kenya
2/20/08 - 6:00 p.m.

Kenya: Talks Facing Uncertainty - Washington,USA
Bush has himself followed up Rice's visit to Kenya with an even more telling reminder when he spoke of early warning signs of a major conflict and the need ...
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Kenya: CBK Steps in Yet Again to Stabilise Shaky Shilling - Washington,USA
The fact that Kenya is essentially an import economy, has pushed higher the demand for dollars, compelling importers to pay more shillings for every ...
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Kenya: What's Behind the Conflict? - Washington,USA
Since the crisis in Kenya erupted six weeks ago there has been a lot of handwringing about the threatened collapse of a haven of "stability" in Africa. ...
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Kenya: China Has Proved It's Not a Friend to Count On - Washington,USA
Outsiders - only in the literal sense since the world is now a global village - got embedded in the Kenya tragedy after ballots became bullets. ...
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Kenya: Refinery - Let Fairness Prevail - Washington,USA
Revelations yesterday that plans to upgrade Kenya's only refinery may be delayed due to a tussle over who should buy the shares from three exiting partners ...
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Kenya: Pump Costs to Push Up Petroleum Prices Again - Washington,USA
The frantic calibration efforts came as motorists in the Northern Kenya town of Lokichogio started paying Sh102 per litre of premium petrol, ...
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Kenya: Petroholdings Sells Its Shares in Kenol to Foreign Investor - Washington,USA
Oil marketer Kenya Oil Company (Kenol) saw its main shareholder, Petroholding Limited, sell off part of its holding to a foreign investor in order to come ...
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Kenya: SkyTeam Offers Passengers Seamless Connection in London - Washington,USA
Beginning next month, passengers using the national flag carrier, Kenya Airways, to London will share facilities at the terminal that is due to be renovated ...
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Kenya: Dream Holidays Beckon With Reduced Air Fares - Washington,USA
These new prices to Mumbai and Johannesburg were unveiled by the national carrier, Kenya Airways, as it grapples with declining passengers.
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