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Kenya Crisis Negotiators Turn to Political Issues


Negotiations aimed at ending the crisis in Kenya are focusing on a political solution to December's disputed elections that left nearly 1,000 people dead and 300,000 homeless. Correspondent Scott Bobb reports from Nairobi that the talks resumed Tuesday after negotiators agreed to end the violence and promote reconciliation.

Government and opposition negotiators in Kenya began talks on what are seen as the most difficult issues behind the violence that has gripped the country for more than a month.

Former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who is mediating the talks, expressed satisfaction Tuesday.

"We are beginning to work as a team, a team put together to help Kenya get out of this crisis, a team put together to help us come up with a long-term viable solution," he said.

He said the solution should strengthen democracy and include electoral, constitutional and land reforms.

A member of the government's negotiating team, Sam Ongeri, said the ultimate goal of the talks is a return to normalcy.

"It must lead inevitably to the total security of our nation," he said. "Secondly, it must lead toward reconciliation. And thirdly, the country must move on."

A negotiator for the opposition, Moses Mudavadi, was more cautious.

"We are optimistic, but let us just say it [the process] is just starting," he said.

Violence broke out across Kenya in December after the opposition Orange Democratic Movement of presidential candidate Raila Odinga claimed election results were rigged in order to give a second term to President Mwai Kibaki.

Many pro-democracy groups want a new presidential vote. Some negotiators have said a power-sharing arrangement would be the best way to end the crisis that has torn society and threatened the once vibrant Kenyan economy. But both sides have rejected such a deal.

Mr. Annan has set a deadline of 15 days to reach agreement on the political issues.

The two sides agreed Monday to provide food and shelter to people displaced by the violence and to help them return home safely. They also agreed to establish a truth and reconciliation commission similar to those set up in other countries following periods of strife.

Mr. Annan had designated South African businessman Cyril Ramaphosa as his chief mediator. But Ramaphosa withdrew Monday after Kenya's government rejected his nomination.

The Red Cross says the death toll from the violence has risen to more than 1,000 and more than 300,000 people have been displaced.

More than 70 people have been killed in the past several days, mostly in clashes in western Kenya near the Ugandan border.

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