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African Union chief mediates in Kenya crisis


Nairobi : Ghanaian President and current African Union (AU) Chairman John Kufuor began Wednesday mediation efforts in Kenya between rival political factions at odds since the disputed Dec 27 presidential elections.

Kufuor met with Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki and was scheduled to meet later with opposition leader Raila Odinga, who has rejected Kibaki’s re-election.

Odinga has accused the incumbent of rigging the December polls and the opposition has refused to accept Kibaki’s victory. Post-election violence between supporters of both factions divided along ethnic lines has led to as many as 500 deaths.

In a statement from Kibaki’s office the Kenyan president said he told Kufuor his highest priority is a resumption of political dialogue and a peaceful solution to the crisis.

Kibaki has invited Odinga and other opposition figures to reconciliation talks planned for Friday. Odinga has said he will only speak to Kibaki with Kufuor present as mediator.

Kufuor was previously involved in conflict resolution in Liberia and the Ivory Coast.

Meanwhile Kibaki Tuesday announced a new cabinet in a surprise move, saying it constituted broad-based leadership from across the political spectrum. Members of Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party were not included in the cabinet.