US pressures Kenya

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Visiting US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has sent the strongest warning yet that Washington would only do business with a legitimately constituted government in Kenya, dealing a major blow to President Mwai Kibaki, who is resisting UN and AU-backed proposals for “a grand coalition interim government.”

“We have been a good friend of Kenya and will continue to be good friend of Kenya, but we have to be a good friend of a Kenya that is stable, that has a legitimate government, that is really able to govern its people and can overcome this crisis, with a government that has the confidence of its people,” Ms. Rice told journalists after a meeting with former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who is leading the talks.

Ms. Rice, who detoured from Tanzania where US President George W. Bush is visiting, arrived in Nairobi Monday (today) morning to back efforts by panel of African Eminent Persons to hasten the search for a solution to the current political imbroglio.

Mr. Annan chairs the panel that also consist of Graca Machel, wife of former South African President Nelson Mandela, and former Tanzania President Benjamin Mkapa.

At least 1,000 people have died and thousands more uprooted from their homes since the results of the disputed presidential poll were announced 29 December 2007. “While the US wants this to be completed, there needs to be governance arrangement that will allow real power sharing, allow [formation of] a grand coalition so that Kenya can be governed,” the Secretary of State said.

In what could be perceived as an insinuation that President Kibaki is in power illegally, Rice said there would be another forum to deal with the fact that the December presidential poll did not produce a clear winner.

Washington has refused to recognise President Kibaki’s government, following international poll monitors’ reports that he did not win the election fairly. The European Union, Canada and South Africa have also expressed scepticism over the Kenyan leader’s poll victory.

In Africa, only Uganda has officially recognised the Kenyan government.

by panapress

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