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Kenya Parliament to Meet as Crisis Talks Resume


The Kenyan parliament is to meet Tuesday to hear reports on the reconciliation talks under way between the government and opposition. The talks resumed Monday seeking to build on progress made last week. Correspondent Scott Bobb reports from Nairobi.

Negotiators from both sides were tight-lipped Monday, as they resumed negotiations to end the crisis that has rocked Kenyan society and threatens economic growth.

The chief mediator, former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, sought to build on advances made last week when the two sides agreed that a political solution was needed to end the crisis.

The speaker of Parliament, Kenneth Marende, said the legislative body would meet Tuesday in an informal session to discuss the negotiations.

"There may be pieces of legislation that will need to be enacted including perhaps possible changes to the constitution. Those will be on the table," Marende said.

Progress was made last week when opposition leaders said they would drop their demand for the resignation of President Mwai Kibaki, who they say rigged the election in his favor.

Government negotiators dropped their insistence that the opposition press its objections through the courts.

Opposition leader Raila Odinga Sunday underscored the new flexibility but indicated the negotiating would be hard.

"We are going there with an open mind, open heart," Odinga said. "All that we have said is that we are not going to betray our supporters. But in as far as giving and taking, we are prepared (to do so)."

Kenyan leaders are under intense pressure from at home and abroad to reach a solution.

The United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator John Holmes said the country faces a major humanitarian crisis. At the end of a three-day visit that included visits to several camps of displaced people, Holmes said the world body is anxious for a successful conclusion to the talks as soon as possible.

"It is also clear that while a rapid political solution to the immediate problems is needed there are some very deep underlying causes of the violence which also need to be dealt with over time and it is vital that the politicians address those problems as well," Holmes said.

Relief officials say more than 300,000 Kenyans have been displaced by the violence. Holmes said the actual number is much higher because many are staying with relatives rather than in camps.

He said humanitarian efforts would be needed for some time as many displaced people no longer had homes to return to.

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