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General News of Monday, 14 January 2008

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Kenya's govt reject Annan's help

The Kenyan government has again turned down international efforts to broker a solution to the crisis triggered by disputed elections.

Government minister John Michuki said there was no need for former UN chief Kofi Annan to visit Kenya on Tuesday to lead fresh mediation efforts.

Last week an initiative led by President John Kufuor failed.

In dismissing [international] media reports that he failed, Kufuor announced that one of the major achievements of his mission is getting the Kenyan Government and opposition to agree to dialogue under the auspices of the Kofi Annan will lead the team of eminent Africans to the talks.

Mr Annan is due to arrive in Kenya on Tuesday, but his visit was played down by Mr Michuki - a hardline member of the new partially filled cabinet announced by Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki.

"If Kofi Annan is coming, he is not coming at our invitation," Mr Michuki said, French news agency AFP reported.

"We won the elections so we do not see the point for anyone coming to mediate power-sharing," he said.

An unnamed government spokesman told another news agency, Reuters, that Mr Kibaki's administration had not asked anyone to mediate its affairs.

He said Kenya, as a sovereign state, should be "treated with the same respect shown to other stable democracies".

Mr Annan will head a panel of "eminent Africans" set up by the African Union, which includes former Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa and Nelson Mandela's wife Graca Machel.

"We expect all people to work hard to find a solution," Mr Annan said in a statement ahead of his trip.

"Pending this, no party should create facts on the ground or engage in acts that complicate the search for a negotiated solution."

But the two sides remain seemingly implacably at odds, say correspondents.

While Mr Kibaki has put forward the possibility of a power-sharing government, ODM leader Raila Odinga insists the presidential election was rigged and must be re-run.

The government has banned the planned ODM rallies, raising fears of clashes between police and protesters.

Parliament is due to reconvene on Tuesday - another possible flashpoint.

The ODM and its allies won a majority in parliament but they may refuse to swear an oath of allegiance to the president.

More than 600 people have been killed and 250,000 displaced in violence that followed elections on 27 December.