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International Pressure Mounts for Kenya Cabinet Agreement

Western diplomats have called for Kenya's leaders to reach agreement on a power-sharing coalition, after negotiations broke down Tuesday. Diplomats say continuing foreign assistance and other cooperation will depend on establishing a government. For VOA, Derek Kilner has more from Nairobi.

Diplomats from the United States, Britain, the European Union, and Canada have called for President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga to resolve the impasse over naming ministers in a coalition government as soon as possible.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who spoke Monday with both leaders by phone, issued a statement Tuesday warning that if no deal is reached, the United States will "form its own judgments" about who is responsible and "act accordingly."

Speaking to reporters Wednesday, U.S. Ambassador to Kenya Michael Ranneberger, echoed this position.

"The whole U.S. relationship with Kenya depends on the implementation of this political accord. We think it will be implemented," Ranneberger said. "But if it is not, for whatever reason, then that would affect the whole relationship, and therefore it would have a huge impact on Kenya."

Ambassador Ranneberger said he met Tuesday with President Kibaki and Mr. Odinga and remains convinced the two will reach an agreement.

European Union diplomats met with members of President Kibaki's Party of National Unity, with British High Commissioner Adam Wood calling for flexibility on both sides. EU representatives met Tuesday with members of Raila Odinga's Orange Democratic Movement.

President Kibaki and Mr. Odinga signed a power-sharing deal mediated by former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan in late February. The agreement calls for Mr. Odinga to take up the newly created position of prime minister, and for cabinet ministries to be split evenly between the two sides.

But Ambassador Ranneberger said both sides have been trying to secure the most powerful ministries, such as internal security and foreign affairs.

The Orange Democratic Movement's announcement Tuesday that it is suspending negotiations sparked protests in the Kibera slum of Nairobi and in the western city of Kisumu, both opposition strongholds, raising worries of a return to the unrest that killed about 1,200 people after December's elections.