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Mediators Brief Kenya Parliament on Crisis Negotiations


The chief mediator in the Kenya reconciliation talks, Kofi Annan, has briefed the Kenyan parliament on the negotiations. VOA's Scott Bobb reports from Nairobi that the former U.N. secretary-general placed a media blackout on the talks as part of efforts to forge an accord by the end of this week.

A member of the government negotiating team, Foreign Minister Moses Wetangula, told VOA that chief mediator Kofi Annan told lawmakers they are part of the process aimed at ending the dispute over December's elections.

"Kofi Annan and his team were briefing parliament on the dialogue and mediation process so far, so that they [parliament] are in the picture, they are kept abreast and they become fully engaged and seized with the issue," said Wetangula.

The speaker of Parliament and opposition member, Kenneth Marenda, discounted reports the talks had hit hurdles over how to end the confrontation between the government of Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga.

"Almost all issues appear to be on course," said Marenda. "Both sides of the political divide are prepared to dialogue and continue. They are all looking forward to a solution and so we do not see a stumbling block as of where we are."

The opposition accuses Mr. Kibaki of rigging the election in order to stay in power. It wants a form of power sharing to be enacted until new elections can be held.

But Foreign Minister Wetangula said the Kenyan constitution does not provide for power sharing.

"There has been no such [power sharing] institution so there are no terms to suit what is not there," he said.

But he indicated that some reforms being discussed could require parliamentary action.

"There will be some [changes] that will require legislative action to be implemented," said Wetangula. "There will be others that will require constitutional amendment to be implemented. So parliament must come on board."

Opposition member Marenda said Annan told parliament he hopes to conclude the negotiations soon.

"We expect a road map in the next one week," he said. "In other words, we expect a program of action which will then lead to peace in the country."

Kenyan leaders are under pressure to settle the dispute rapidly. Relief officials say the country faces a humanitarian crisis if the stalemate continues.

More than 300,000 people have been displaced by the violence in which an estimated 1,000 were killed. The crisis has also hurt the Kenyan economy, in particular tourism, transportation and agriculture.

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