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AU Mediation Effort in Kenya Ends in Failure

An African Union effort to end Kenya's political crisis ended in failure Thursday, with the president and opposition accusing each other of ruining the talks.

AU Chairman and Ghana's President John Kufuor has left Nairobi after two days of mediation in which President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga neither met nor reached any agreements.

The opposition said Thursday that President Kibaki had refused to sign a proposed agreement to review last month's disputed presidential election.

A Kibaki spokesman says the president had offered dialogue with the opposition but that Mr. Odinga was not responsive.

AU Chairman Kufuor says both sides have agreed to work with a panel of eminent Africans led by former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

The opposition accuses Mr. Kibaki of rigging the December 27 presidential election to ensure his victory. Violence triggered by the election has killed more than 500 people.

Earlier Thursday, Mr. Odinga held talks with Mr. Kufour, four former African heads of state and Jendayi Frazer, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for African affairs.

While the talks were in progress, a group of Kibaki allies were sworn in as Cabinet ministers in a closed-door ceremony. The ministers' appointment on Tuesday sparked renewed violence in parts of the country. None of the Cabinet officials are members of the opposition Orange Democratic Movement.

The opposition on Tuesday denounced the appointments as evidence Mr. Kibaki is unwilling to negotiate an end to the crisis.

Also in Nairobi Thursday, police fired tear gas to disperse around 100 women protesters who were marching in support of Mr. Odinga.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.