- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 16, 2008

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Kenya’s political rivals yesterday announced a 10-point plan to resolve their political crisis after weeks of negotiations, but they remained deadlocked over power sharing.

The two sides made progress on other issues, including an agreement for an independent review of the election at the center of their dispute. The Dec. 27 presidential vote unleashed weeks of ethnic violence that left more than 1,000 people dead and displaced hundreds of thousands.

“Let me assure you that there is real momentum,” said former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who is mediating the political talks. “We are at the water’s edge and the last difficult and frightening step, as difficult as it is, will be taken,” he told reporters.

Opposition leader Raila Odinga and President Mwai Kibaki have been under international pressure to share power as a way to resolve their dispute over who won the election. Mr. Odinga says Mr. Kibaki stole the vote and should step down. Mr. Kibaki insists his position as president is not negotiable.

Much of the violence has pitted other ethnic groups against Mr. Kibaki’s Kikuyu tribe, long resented for its prominence in politics and the economy.

The preliminary agreement signed Thursday after 48 hours of secret talks calls for an independent review committee “to investigate all aspects of the 2007 presidential election.”

The committee will include Kenyan and non-Kenyan members, start work March 15 and submit its report within three to six months. The report will be published two weeks later.

In the agreement, the government acknowledged that the dispute cannot be resolved in court because the deadline for complaints expired earlier this year. Mr. Kibaki’s government had insisted the opposition take its complaints to the courts, while Mr. Odinga demanded that Mr. Kibaki step down.

The two sides have not agreed on whether to hold a rerun election, as the opposition has demanded.

The agreement also calls for the two sides to draw up a new constitution within a year, which could pave the way for a prime minister’s post or another way to share power.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is due in Kenya on Monday to call for an immediate end to the violence. Miss Rice and Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer will meet with Mr. Kibaki and Mr. Odinga.

A statement from Mr. Odinga’s party yesterday said the visit is a “sign of the growing U.S. and international awareness that this grave crisis is far from over and that international pressure is essential. … We should not be fooled by the current relative calm to believe that the worse of the situation is over.”

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