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Kofi Annan to mediate in Kenyan election dispute

The former UN secretary general Kofi Annan will mediate in a dispute over the Kenyan presidential election after his predecessor failed to get President Mwai Kibaki and the opposition leader to meet.

The departing mediator, John Kufuor, the president of Ghana and current chairman of the African Union (AU), tried to emphasise the positive yesterday. "Both sides agree that there should be an end to violence," he said, referring to the fighting prompted by the election that has left at least 500 people dead.

The AU said Mr Kufuor had won an agreement from President Kibaki and the opposition leader, Raila Odinga, to work with a panel of eminent Africans led by Mr Annan to resolve their differences over the election of 27 December.

International observers agree the vote was rigged, and even Mr Kibaki's own election chief has said that he cannot be sure who won.

Mr Kibaki has appointed half of his cabinet, swearing in his allies and ignoring Mr Odinga's party. Mr Odinga has said he would meet Mr Kibaki only in the presence of an international mediator. Mr Kibaki wants direct talks.

Earlier, protesters from the women's wing of Mr Odinga's Orange Democratic Movement defied a ban on demonstrations to march in the capital, chanting: "No peace, no justice! Kibaki is a thief." Police fired tear gas at them and the women fled in disarray.

Also yesterday, Kenyans for Peace with Truth and Justice, an umbrella body for civil groups formed after the elections, presented the police with a list of charges it wants brought against all 22 electoral commissioners and some vote counters, including forgery, subverting the rule of law, making out false certificates and abuse of office.