February 19, 2008 in Nation/World

Rice uses conditional aid to pressure Kenyan rivals

Stephanie Mccrummen Washington Post
 

NAIROBI, Kenya – Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told Kenya’s deadlocked political rivals Monday that the time for an agreement was “yesterday” and said the United States would provide a power-sharing government with money to fund reconstruction and the resettlement of people displaced in violence since the disputed Dec. 27 presidential election.

“This is not a time for personal agendas,” Rice said at a news conference on the lawn of the U.S. ambassador’s residence here. “It is important that this is done, and done urgently. Kenyans need to sense that the country is moving forward.”

U.S. diplomacy has had little effect so far in moving President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga closer to compromise.

Rice’s visit was intended to intensify pressure on the leaders to solve a crisis that has undermined the stability of a country strategically important to the United States because of its proximity to the troubled countries of Somalia, Ethiopia and Sudan.

Rice met separately with Kibaki and Odinga on Monday. Odinga accuses his rival of stealing a second term in a voting process so flawed that international observers have said it is impossible to know who won.

During her visit, Rice also expressed support for efforts by former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan to mediate between Odinga and Kibaki, whose government has seemed increasingly reluctant to relinquish any power. Opposition leaders accuse hard-liners in Kibaki’s inner circle of stonewalling in hopes of tiring Annan so he would leave without a deal. On Monday, Odinga also accused the government of training militias in several parts of Kenya. Kibaki’s aides have denied both allegations.

Rice said she made it clear to both leaders that the Bush administration would not accept the status quo.

“The current stalemate and the circumstances are not going to permit business as usual with the United States,” she said.


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