( dpa ) - Kenya's rival political sides began formal talks Thursday that are hoped will bring an end to the vicious ethnic clashes and chaos sparked by disputed elections last month.
Much hangs on the success of the talks, with the East African nation remaining tense and volatile and violence continuing to reign in parts of the country.
The opposition, led by Raila Odinga, 63, has insisted any negotiations it enters into are not with the government, but rather President Mwai Kibaki's Party of National Unity.
The government has played down the necessity of the mediation, instead calling the talks part of a process of "national reconciliation."
Former United Nations secretary-general Kofi Annan, who is brokering the talks, has said "short-term" issues should be resolved within four weeks and other longer-standing problems would be addressed within a year.
Odinga has charged Kibaki rigged last month's polls and has demanded he step down. Kibaki meanwhile has cemented his position as president by naming part of his cabinet and attending an African Union leaders' summit.
Each side has three negotiators set to push their agendas and the trios are scheduled to meet twice Thursday.