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Kenya parties to discuss power sharing

Kenya’s rival parties geared up on Sunday to thrash out a power-sharing agreement to end a deadly crisis over President Mwai Kibaki’s disputed re-election.

world Updated: Feb 11, 2008 00:44 IST

Kenya’s rival parties geared up on Sunday to thrash out a power-sharing agreement to end a deadly crisis over President Mwai Kibaki’s disputed re-election.

Both sides gave ground last week at talks mediated by former UN boss Kofi Annan, paving the way for a deal to stop turmoil that has killed more than 1,000 and uprooted 300,000 more.

Opposition leader Raila Odinga accuses Kibaki of rigging the Dec. 27 poll, triggering ethnic violence that shattered Kenya’s image as a peaceful business, tourism and transport hub.

“We are advocating for power-sharing, if need be,” Japhet Kareke, a member of parliament from Kibaki’s coalition, told reporters. “The president and honourable Raila are talking. For the sake of peace, let them sit down and agree the way forward.”

When negotiations resume on Monday, both sides will discuss what form power-sharing might take over a two- to three-year period. Then Annan’s mediation team is due to brief legislators on Tuesday during a special session of parliament.

Speaking outside a Nairobi cathedral on Sunday, Odinga said his party supported a political settlement, but gave no details: “We will not carry out mediation talks through the media.”

His Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) is no longer calling on Kibaki to step down, sources close to the talks say, while Kibaki’s Party of National Unity (PNU) has dropped its demand that the Opposition take any grievances over the polls to court.

For his part, Annan has sounded optimistic since the apparent breakthrough in the discussions on Friday, saying he that now expects delegates to reach a deal within days.

But he has urged caution, saying the talks were far from complete and chiding some participants for leaking details.

Both sides have agreed principles to end violence and help refugees. Annan had given them until mid-February to resolve a third item: what should be done about the disputed election.

The former U.N. chief hopes debate on the deeper underlying issues, such as land grievances, will be tackled within a year.

The bloodshed in Kenya has exposed deep divisions over land, wealth and power sown during British colonial rule and have been stoked by politicians ever since.