10 01 2016
  5:07 am  
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NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) -- The United States intensified pressure on Kenya's rival politicians to end a bloody political crisis as the country's foreign minister warned Sunday that any solution imposed by foreigners would ultimately fail.
Washington is pressing Kenya's rivals to strike a power-sharing deal to end the turmoil that has engulfed much of the country since a flawed Dec. 27 presidential vote, and U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was to visit the country Monday to help push forward deadlocked peace talks.
U.S. President George W. Bush told reporters Sunday that the United States was looking at "how best we can help the process. Not what we should do to dictate the process but what America can do to help the process move along."
Bush, who is in neighboring Tanzania, the second stop of a five-nation Africa tour, indicated a day earlier that Washington favors a power-sharing deal between President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga, who says the election was stolen from him.
In the nearly two months since the vote, Kenya has been wracked by violence, much of it pitting ethnic groups that supported the opposition against those tied to the president's party. More than 1,000 people have been killed and some 600,000 forced from their homes.
While Kenya's political leaders have welcomed help from abroad in trying to end the crisis -- former U.N. chief Kofi Annan is mediating ongoing talks -- the country's foreign minister insisted Sunday that no solution be imposed from the outside.
The result of the talks "must be a Kenyan solution. Anything less will be superficial and perhaps counterproductive," Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetangula, who is on the government's negotiating team at the talks, told reporters.
No one, he warned, should "make a mistake of putting a gun (to) anybody's head."
On Saturday, the top U.S. State Department official for Africa warned that Washington is considering targeted sanctions against anyone who stands in the way of a power-sharing deal.
"We've talked about a visa ban, but there are other issues and ways in which we can try to encourage them to negotiate in good faith," Jendayi Frazer, the assistant secretary of state for African affairs, said Saturday en route to Africa.
Annan announced last week that the rivals had agreed to an independent review of the election. But Odinga and Kibaki remain deadlocked on proposals to share power, and the two sides have not agreed on whether to hold a rerun election, as the opposition has demanded.
A preliminary agreement signed Thursday calls for an independent review committee to investigate the 2007 presidential election and issue a report in three to six months. The deal 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.
Odinga promised supporters Saturday that the negotiations would succeed.
Meanwhile, police arrested 37 people suspected of belonging to a banned Kikuyu gang called Mungiki accused of postelection violence, said Leonard Omolo, a police official. The suspects, including a 13-year-old boy, were found with more than three dozen machetes, he said.
Unrest has largely tapered off across Kenya in the past week as the talks have progressed. But about 50 people displaced by the earlier strife burned tires Saturday on the main road in the western town of Kakamega and demanded that authorities provide them a proper camp.
Police fired into the air to disperse the protesters and later gave them space in the grounds of a police station, the town's police chief, John Mwinzi, said Sunday.

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