Former UN Chief Says Kenyans Agree to Investigate Election བོད་སྐད།

Former U.N. chief Kofi Annan says Kenyan government and opposition negotiators have agreed to form an independent commission to investigate the country's disputed presidential election. Mr. Annan, who has been trying to resolve the crisis that has gripped the country since the vote, told reporters that Kenyans have a need to know what happened. He told reporters that the two sides agreed to work toward long term constitutional and government reform and will meet with him again on Tuesday. From Nairobi, VOA's Scott Bobb has this report.

Kenyan government and opposition negotiators Friday briefed their parties in Nairobi on the two days of talks behind closed doors held at a remote lodge in southwestern Kenya.

Most were tight-lipped about the negotiations chaired by former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan. But one delegate said they had agreed that a new constitution was needed to resolve disputes that have plagued Kenyan politics virtually since independence.

Negotiators also indicated that a number of issues have yet to be resolved. These reportedly include the nature and composition of the government that would rule while the constitution is being drafted and the distribution of portfolios within such a government.

The opposition wants a form of power-sharing with its leaders occupying major posts. Government negotiators have reportedly balked at such an arrangement.

Both sides have been under intense pressure to reach a political settlement and end the violence that has killed 1,000 people and displaced hundreds of thousands more.

President Bush announced Thursday he would send Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to Kenya next week to show support for the negotiations and what was termed a full return to democracy.

The British high commissioner to Kenya, Adam Wood, told the Kenya Television Network that his government did not recognize the government of Mwai Kibaki which was inaugurated last December after elections that the opposition says were rigged.

"Given the irregularities that were reported by observers around the elections, we do not recognize the Kenyan government as presently constituted as representing the democratic will of the Kenyan people," said Wood.

He indicated that sanctions such as a ban on visits by prominent politicians and a freeze of their assets in Britain might be considered.

Kenya's Foreign Minister Moses Wetangula strongly protested. He said Kenya did not need a stamp of approval from its former colonial power and warned that his government might retaliate.

Switzerland also warned that it could restrict visits to Switzerland by individuals who were found to have subverted democracy or contributed to violence. This echoed a position voiced by the European Union last week.

The United States announced a ban on visits by prominent Kenyans who were found to have been involved in the violence. And Canada said its laws prohibit visits by officials who subvert democracy.

The talks are due to resume on Tuesday.