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Kofi Annan to Begin Kenya Mediation Wednesday

Former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan begins his mediation role Wednesday in Nairobi between President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga in an effort to find a lasting solution to the post-election crisis that has gripped Kenya since December 27. Annan, who arrived in the Kenyan capital Tuesday night, appealed to both Kibaki and Odinga for cooperation during the talks.

It was not clear whether President Kibaki and Odinga would meet face to face. But the opposition had long insisted on international mediation. There was also uncertainty whether Wednesday’s talks are about negotiations or dialogue. Peter Anyang Nyong’o is ODM Secretary-general. He told VOA the direction of the talks would be determined once the ODM meets the former U.N. Secretary-General.

“I think we really have to wait until negotiations start. The rules of engagement will define the parameters of the discussions and what would follow after that. Our interest is to ensure that we can resolve the crisis of the stolen presidential election. And we cannot do justice to the issues unless and until we establish the extent to which the votes were stolen and Kenyans know that the President in power is the one they voted for on the 27th of December,” he said.

Opposition leader Raila Odinda told his supporters Monday that he was ready to talk to Kibaki, but only in the presence of an international mediator. Nyong’o said the ODM wants to know the truth of what happened in the December 27 election.

“What I am saying is we must get to the bottom of what happened at the December 27 election and how is it that our candidate was elected president but was denied the feat,” Nyong’o said.

There have been reports that the ODM and the government could not agree on whou should represent the government with Mr. Annan, President Kibaki or nearly appointed Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka. Nyong’o said the election dispute is between President Kibaki and the ODM.

“The conflict we have with the PNU (Kibaki’s Party of National Unity). Mr. Musyoka is leader of the Orange Democratic Movement –Kenya. As a candidate, he himself competed in the presidential election. But the man who stole the vote is Mwai Kibaki. Our interest is with Mwai Kibaki and not through surrogates,” he said.

Nyong’o said the opposition ODM and its supporters will hold a mass prayer service in Nairobi Wednesday to pray for those he said were shot by police during last week’s post-election protests.