Ban meets Kenyan opposition leader and negotiating teams

Other News Materials 1 February 2008 15:58 (UTC +04:00)

( dpa ) - United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon met Kenya's opposition leader and teams representing the country's rival politicians Friday, urging them to find a solution to the deadly crisis triggered by disputed elections in December.

Ban was in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa Thursday and spoke to more than 40 African leaders at the African Union (AU) summit, where he met with President Mwai Kibaki, who is accused of rigging the polls that brought him back to power for a second term.

"I wish you all the best and good luck and have courage. Look for the future. Now the future is on you," he told the two teams of three.

Both sides said the talks were progressing and that they hoped a political solution to the quagmire would come speedily.

"We trust that we are going to resolve these issues and we are committed as Kenyans to find a lasting solution," said Justice Minister Martha Karua, a member of the government's team.

Much hangs on the success of the talks, with violence that has plagued the country easing somewhat Friday, but tension remaining thick. Some observers say the violence has spiralled such that even a political solution will not ebb it.

The world body's chief met earlier with his predecessor, Kofi Annan, who is mediating talks between opposition leader Raila Odinga and Kibaki that are hoped will solve the crisis that has turned neighbour on neighbour and virtually paralysed East Africa's largest economy.

Ban also held talks with Odinga, who asked the UN boss to use his "good offices" to provide protection to Kenyans who "live in dread of being attacked and murdered every night."

Odinga said his Orange Democratic Movement received a letter from the US embassy in Nairobi addressed to the ministers of internal security and foreign affairs, offering Federal Bureau of Investigation assistance in probing the death of an opposition MP killed late Monday.

Annan suspended the first official day of mediation Thursday after another opposition legislator was shot dead - the second one killed in less than a week - but resumed Friday.

Sitting next to his successor, Annan said Ban spoke "words of inspiration" that would propel the group forward.

The former UN head has said "short-term" issues plaguing Kenya should be addressed within four weeks. Meanwhile, Annan called on prominent South African businessman and former political negotiator Cyril Ramaphosa to assist in the mediation and he was set to arrive Friday.

More than 800 people have been killed in the conflict which has unleashed deep-rooted tribal tensions while more than 250,000 people have been displaced.