Rice arrives in Kenya to push for an end to crisis


Nairobi : US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice arrived for a one-day trip to Kenya Monday to meet with rival politicians squabbling over a political settlement to end the crisis over disputed polls in December that plunged the country into insecurity.

Support TwoCircles

Rice, who left President George W. Bush in neighbouring Tanzania on his five-country Africa tour, arrived at an upmarket Nairobi hotel that has been the scene of negotiations to end the stalemate, to discuss the conflict with mediator and former UN secretary general Kofi Annan.

The visit came amid Kenyan government assertions that it would not be forced by any foreign power to agree to a power-sharing deal to end the crisis.

Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetang’ula responded to calls by Bush made on the first leg of his trip in the West African country of Benin for a coalition government, telling reporters that a solution to the political stalemate would be found from within.

“The solution must be Kenyan. We will not arrive at a solution because A and B say this is the solution,” he said Sunday.

Bush later said he supported whatever would solve the crisis.

Rice is set to meet President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga, and is expected to press for a power-sharing deal between the two former allies who are now at loggerheads over the validity of the polls.

Negotiating teams representing each side discussed last week what such a deal would look like but failed to agree on a final settlement.

Annan announced Friday that the teams had agreed to create an independent review committee that would study the 2007 elections in a bid to better the electoral process among a slew of broad reforms that must begin to be put in place in a year.

Kenya’s disputed elections in December sparked a wave of violence that exposed the country’s deep-rooted tribal tensions, unleashing bloodletting that saw more than 1,000 people killed and more than 300,000 displaced.

While the violence has eased throughout most of the country, the crisis has tarnished Kenya’s image as a stable beacon in a volatile region and a budding democracy in Africa.