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» 19.04.2010 - Kenyan leader speaks out on constitution affair
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» 25.02.2010 - Truth commission chair told to resign
» 18.02.2010 - Resolve differences - Annan tells Kenyan leaders

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AU to diffuse Kenya deadlock

afrol News, 26 February - President Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania and leader of the African Union has flown to Kenya to diffuse the deadlock talks between the government and opposition.

The AU leader's trip has been prompted by the crisis mediator's comments that it appears the two sides are "incapable of resolving their differences."

After a meeting with President Kibaki and Raila Odinga on Monday, the former UN chief Kofi Annan said his mediation team had "done its work," but the onus is now on the "party leaders to do theirs."

Since 29 January, Mr Annan has been mediating Kenya's bloody political violence fuelled by the dispute over last year's presidential results. He is deeply frustrated that a lot of time has been wasted on talks, yet the deadlock remains.

The two sides have been deadlocking on the powers and appointment of the Prime Minister, a post to be taken by Mr Odinga in a power-sharing government. They cannot also agree on sharing cabinet positions and conduct of fresh election should the unity government collapses.

Mr Annan said the two rival sides must agree on a power-sharing government to avoid further violence in the country.

An opposition representative in the talks, William Ruto, blamed the Kibaki government of “changing their mind on sharing power." Ruto's claims were denied by the government.

The opposition has formally applied permit to hold nation-wide protests to force the government to agree on power-sharing. There are fears of renewed violence if the opposition takes to the streets once again.

However, according to Kenya's Minister of Justice, Martha Karua, an agreement on the creation of the office of Prime Minister and two deputies has been reached.

“The prime minister will co-ordinate performance of government ministries and perform any other duties assigned by the president," he said, adding that the coalition is expected to be dissolved either after the 10th parliament had expired or when the national executive council decides to pull out.

Another government negotiator, Mutula Kilonzo, is confident that a deal will be forged latest on Wednesday.

A top United Nations Envoy to Kenya has called for International efforts to help Kenya recover from the unrest and thoroughly address the root causes of the violence. John Holmes said the country's political crisis must be first resolved as a matter of urgency.

“If there is no quick resolution to the political crisis, the risk of a fresh surge in violence, more displacement and further polarization of society will be very high,” John Holmes told the Security Council.

“The humanitarian consequences of this could dwarf anything we have seen so far,” he said.

He also urged the international community to address endemic poverty, grievances over land and wide economic imbalances in Kenya.

“I believe the UN can and should play a vital helping role in many of these areas, including programmes to tackle provision of livelihood support, youth employment and reconciliation between communities, building on local initiatives,” he said.

Mr Holmes also briefed the council that Kenya will continue to grapple with displacements and abuses of rights, including rape of women, even after a political agreement has become a reality.

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