Kenya on brink of violence as Annan suspends talks

Kenya was teetering on the brink of a return to violence last night, as the former UN secretary general Kofi Annan suspended negotiations on a political settlement aimed at restoring peace to the country that had been Africa's most stable democracy until disputed elections.

Mr Annan has been showing signs of exasperation and has threatened to walk out of the talks altogether because of the failure to reach a power-sharing deal involving President Mwai Kibaki and the opposition leader Raila Odinga, with disagreement focusing on the scope of the prime minister's role. However Mr Annan appears to be aware that his presence is preventing a bloodbath, and he said the situation had become "very dangerous".

Mr Annan insisted last night, at the end of what was described as "D-Day", that negotiations had not "broken down" and that he was suspending them in order to "accelerate the process. The leaders have to assume their responsibilities and become directly engaged in these talks."

The post-election violence that has claimed more than 1,000 lives and left the country bitterly divided along tribal lines has faded during the past two weeks of negotiations in line with promises by both sides. About 600,000 people have been forced to flee from their homes by the clashes that broke out following President Kibaki's declaration of victory after the 27 December presidential elections. Mr Odinga, from the rival Luo tribe, also claimed victory after what he said was a sham poll. But it is rumoured that gangs have used the breathing space of the talks to rearm.

The Kenyan leaders came under mounting international pressure to resolve their differences last night, with the US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, issuing a veiled threat to the future of bilateral relations.

"I want to emphasise that the future of our relationship with both sides and their legitimacy hinges on their co-operation to achieve this political solution," she said, speaking in China. "We will draw our own conclusions about who is responsible for lack of progress and take necessary steps."

She did not elaborate, but a possible travel ban targeting the Kenyan elite, whose children are educated in British schools, could be envisaged by the international community which is united behind Mr Annan's efforts to find a political solution. Ms Rice said there was "no excuse for further delay". The EU was expected to issue a statement on the crisis last night.

Tanzania's President Jakaya Kikwete, the current head of the African Union, is due in Nairobi today in a last-ditch attempt to talk to the mediator and the Kenyan leaders. But it is not clear what leverage the international community has over Kenya, which has above all suffered from damage to its tourism industry and trade as a result of the ethnic unrest.

The opposition is also keeping up its own pressure on the negotiators and has called for nationwide demonstrations beginning tomorrow if there is no deal.

The Foreign Office minister responsible for Africa, Lord Malloch Brown, warned yesterday that Kenya may need to deploy the army – which unlike the police has remained neutral in the political crisis – to quell any renewed violence. Deployment of the army would be "by far the best option," he said, although he acknowledged that such a move risked being interpreted as "a coup" by the opposition. And such a deployment would not contribute to a solution between the political rivals.

Mr Annan said on Monday that almost no progress had been made in the talks, in particular Mr Odinga and Mr Kibaki remain far apart on defining the role of prime minister.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
Buttoned up: Ryan Reynolds with Helen Mirren in ‘Woman in Gold’
filmFor every box-office smash in his Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. Now he says it's time for a reboot
News
people
News
Actress Julianne Moore wins the Best Actress in a Leading Role Award for 'Still Alice' during the 87th Annual Academy Awards in Hollywood, California
people
Sport
Ross Barkley
footballPaul Scholes says it's time for the Everton playmaker to step up and seize the England No 10 shirt
News
'We will fix it': mice in the 1970s children’s programme Bagpuss
science
Life and Style
2 Karl Lagerfeld and Choupette
fashion
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Executive

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Retail Buyer / Ecommerce Buyer

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Working closely with the market...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - CAD Software Solutions Sales

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A reputable company, famed for ...

Ashdown Group: Client Accountant Team Manager - Reading

Negotiable: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group has been engaged by a highly resp...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria's capital

War with Isis

Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria
Scientists develop mechanical spring-loaded leg brace to improve walking

A spring in your step?

Scientists develop mechanical leg brace to help take a load off
Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock: How London shaped the director's art and obsessions

Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock

Ackroyd has devoted his literary career to chronicling the capital and its characters. He tells John Walsh why he chose the master of suspense as his latest subject
Ryan Reynolds interview: The actor is branching out with Nazi art-theft drama Woman in Gold

Ryan Reynolds branches out in Woman in Gold

For every box-office smash in Ryan Reynolds' Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. It's time for a rethink and a reboot, the actor tells James Mottram
Why Robin Williams safeguarded himself against a morbid trend in advertising

Stars safeguard against morbid advertising

As film-makers and advertisers make increasing posthumous use of celebrities' images, some stars are finding new ways of ensuring that they rest in peace
The UK horticulture industry is facing a skills crisis - but Great Dixter aims to change all that

UK horticulture industry facing skills crisis

Great Dixter manor house in East Sussex is encouraging people to work in the industry by offering three scholarships a year to students, as well as generous placements
Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head

Hack Circus: Technology, art and learning

Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head. Rhodri Marsden meets mistress of ceremonies Leila Johnston
Sevenoaks is split over much-delayed decision on controversial grammar school annexe

Sevenoaks split over grammar school annexe

If Weald of Kent Grammar School is given the go-ahead for an annexe in leafy Sevenoaks, it will be the first selective state school to open in 50 years
10 best compact cameras

A look through the lens: 10 best compact cameras

If your smartphone won’t quite cut it, it’s time to invest in a new portable gadget
Paul Scholes column: Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now

Paul Scholes column

Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now
Why Michael Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Why Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Manchester United's talented midfielder has played international football for almost 14 years yet, frustratingly, has won only 32 caps, says Sam Wallace
Tracey Neville: The netball coach who is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

Tracey Neville is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

The former player on how she is finding time to coach both Manchester Thunder in the Superleague and England in this year's World Cup
General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?