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U.S. ambassador says ‘‘it is not going to be easy’’ to get a political settlement

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Posted: January 16, 2008 3:59 p.m.
Updated: January 31, 2008 5:00 a.m.
    WASHINGTON — Violence was down in Kenya on Wednesday, but the U.S. ambassador said it was ‘‘not going to be easy’’ to persuade Kenya’s president and opposition leader to agree to power-sharing to remedy the outcome of their hotly disputed election.
    ‘‘Both have looked us in the eye and said they are willing to have a dialogue without conditions,’’ Ambassador Michael Ranneberger said by telephone from Kenya.
    President Mwai Kibaki’s one condition is that he will not step down, Ranneberger told reporters and others attending a conference at the Center for Strategic International Studies, a Washington think tank.
    Supporters of opposition leader Raila Odinga believe he was cheated out of the presidency by vote-rigging in last month’s elections. Violence has gripped several cities in the African country, but Ranneberger said ‘‘the violence today has not been widespread in Nairobi and there are no reports of deaths.’’
    Former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan had been expected in the capital Tuesday night on a mediation mission, but the visit was postponed after he fell ill with flu, according to his office in Geneva, Switzerland.
    Ranneberger said Annan was expected to reschedule his visit to Kenya for early next week.
    In light of contested election results, a power-sharing arrangement was ‘‘the only thing to do,’’ Ranneberger said.
    ‘‘The United States has been in the center of trying to promote dialogue,’’ the ambassador said. ‘‘The U.S. is trying to rattle the cage and making it known we want a political settlement, but it is not going to be easy to get a process going.’’
    Otherwise, he said, the country cannot be stable.
    The ambassador ruled out holding a new election. ‘‘Neither side has the money for it,’’ he said.

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