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Annan to Press Feuding Kenyan Factions to Reach Agreement


Former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, the chief mediator in Kenya's political crisis talks, is pressing the nation's rival leaders to reach some level of compromise.

Mr. Annan's meetings with Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga of the Orange Democratic Movement Wednesday, come one day after the former U.N. chief suspended talks aimed at ending the political deadlock.

On Tuesday, Mr. Annan said the government and the opposition were, in his words, "turning in circles," and he said he believed it was important to temporarily stop the talks.

Separately today, the chairman of the African Union, Tanzania's President Jakaya Kikwete, is expected to meet with the feuding politicians.

In related news, Kenya's opposition announced that it would not stage nationwide demonstrations on Thursday, as it had previously threatened.

Kenya's rival factions have agreed in principle to a power-sharing deal that would create the post of prime minister -- a key opposition demand. But they have not reached an agreement on the prime minister's powers.

An opposition official said his side has given substantial ground in the negotiations, and he criticized the government for not doing the same. But a government negotiator said his side is feeling unduly pressured in the talks.

The opposition alleges that Kenyan President Kibaki's re-election in December was rigged.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has criticized Kenyan leaders for failing to resolve the crisis, which triggered violence that claimed at least 1,000 lives.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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