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Kenya Reconciliation Talks Hit Snag


In Kenya, government and opposition officials have resumed talks on the country's political crisis. As VOA's Scott Bobb reports from Nairobi, the talks were suspended after several hours so the two sides could hold consultations over what were called certain difficult items.

The Kenya reconciliation talks ended early Monday as both sides said they needed to consult with their respective leaders.

A negotiator for the government, Foreign Minister Moses Wetangula, told VOA the sticking points were centered on the details of a power-sharing agreement reached in principle last week.

"In broad terms we are dealing with issues concerning governance, period. The issue we are dealing with for the past one week is governance," said Wetangula. "That is a very touchy and tricky issue."

A member of the government team, Justice Minister Martha Karua, said the two sides had agreed to establish the posts of prime minister and two deputies. And she said they had agreed that the prime minister, who is expected to come from the opposition Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) would coordinate the government ministries.

But Karua underscored that a number of points had not been agreed upon.

"There is no agreement of sharing of ministries equally between the government and the ODM. There is also no agreement that the prime minister should have a supervisory role," said Karua.

She said further that no agreement had been reached that any collapse of the proposed coalition government would be followed by new elections.

The opposition wants the prime minister to be head of government and have control over the ministries, powers currently held by the president. It also wants new elections if the proposed coalition collapses.

The crisis erupted in December after President Mwai Kibaki was declared the winner of an election which the opposition says was rigged. One thousand people were killed and several hundred thousand displaced by the violence that followed.

Nevertheless, both sides say the talks will continue. Opposition negotiator William Ruto said his side remains optimistic.

"We have confidence in the management of the mediation by Kofi Annan and we believe that it will in a matter of days come to a conclusion that will be acceptable to the people of Kenya," said Ruto.

The talks began four weeks ago chaired by former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan who asked the two sides to reach a deal in 15 days.

As the talks have dragged on, anxiety has risen among many Kenyans. The opposition says it will launch a campaign of civil disobedience Wednesday if agreement is not reached.

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