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Rice Urges Compromise Following One-Day Trip to Nairobi

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice Monday urged the parties in Kenya's reconciliation talks to compromise and share power. The U.S. official met Kenyan leaders Monday during a one-day visit that was seen as raising international pressure for a political settlement to the disputed Kenyan elections. VOA's Scott Bobb reports from Nairobi.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice ended her one-day visit to Kenya Monday urging government and opposition negotiators to compromise in order to end the crisis that has paralyzed the government and is threatening economic growth.

"It is extremely important that this country be able to move forward," Rice noted. "That means that the political leaders from all persuasions, all sides, need to come to an agreement. They need to have a power sharing arrangement which will allow the governance of Kenya to go forward."

She said chief mediator Kofi Annan had made good progress in working with the parties to close several outstanding issues.

"There is the remaining issue of governance and that structure needs to be decided. There needs to be a coalition," she said. "They need to share power and share responsibility for the governing of this country."

Nevertheless she acknowledged differences remain over how to achieve this goal.

The two sides have agreed on the need for a political solution to the Kenya crisis, but government negotiators have rejected power sharing, which the opposition demands.

Rice said real power sharing means the parties that come into any kind of coalition have to have responsibilities and authorities that matter. It cannot be an illusion of power sharing, she said, it has to be real.

She made the remarks after meeting separately with Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki, opposition leader Raila Odinga and chief mediator Kofi Annan.

Mr. Kibaki's office issued a statement saying that the Kenyan president during his meeting reaffirmed his commitment to the ongoing dialogue chaired by Mr. Annan and continue to look for an amicable solution to the current political challenges.

Rice was sent to Kenya by President Bush who also said the U.S. government wants to see a power sharing agreement.

Kenya's Foreign Minister Moses Wetangula reacted angrily to the remark, saying any solution must be a Kenyan one because anything less would be superficial and possibly counterproductive.

"We encourage our friends to support us, to encourage us, but not to make any mistake of putting a gun on anybody's head and say 'either or,' because that cannot work," Wetangula said.

Mr. Annan underscored that the international community is not seeking to force a solution on Kenyan leaders.

"No one is here to dictate, but we are here in solidarity," Annan said. "And you will remember when we arrived I said we have not come to impose a solution, but we are here to insist on one."

The two sides last week signed an agreement that calls for an independent investigation into the disputed elections. A wave of violence erupted after the vote in which 1,000 people were killed and several hundred-thousand more were displaced.

The accord calls for prosecution of those responsible for the violence and for the creation of a truth and reconciliation commission. And it calls for sweeping reforms to the Kenyan constitution, electoral laws, political institutions, and security forces.

The government and opposition negotiators are due to take up issues surrounding governance when talks with Mr. Annan resume Tuesday.