NAIROBI, Kenya — Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Monday that Kenya's feuding political parties must share power in a coalition government, increasing the pressure for a speedy resolution to the country's political crisis.
After separate meetings with President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga, Rice said that both men needed to make concessions to end a seven-week stalemate after Kibaki was declared the winner of a questionable election. She indicated that the U.S. government would provide additional funding to rebuild the country once there's an agreement.
"We are prepared to do more for reconstruction, resettlement of people, rehabilitation of infrastructure," Rice said. "The current stalemate...(is) not going to permit business as usual with the United States."
President Bush, who continued a five-nation African tour in neighboring Tanzania, dispatched Rice to signal U.S. support for mediation efforts led by former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan. Bush's efforts to highlight U.S.-led successes in health and development in Africa have been undermined by the instability in Kenya, a key ally, where ethnic violence triggered by the disputed election has killed more than 1,000 people and forced hundreds of thousands from their homes.
Annan also has called for a coalition government, but as negotiations enter a fourth week the two sides remain far apart on what such a system would look like.
Odinga, who charges that Kibaki stole the Dec. 27 presidential election through widespread vote-rigging — a claim backed by many international observers — wants to share executive power in a newly created prime minister position. Kibaki says he won fairly and has offered only to give Odinga's party positions in his Cabinet, which he's already half filled.
Expressing impatience with both sides, Rice said that Kenyans needed a resolution "yesterday" and urged Kibaki and Odinga — former allies — to compromise.
"The parties that come to any kind of coalition have to actually have responsibilities and authorities that matter," Rice said. "It can't be...simply the illusion of power sharing."
Rice's offer of more U.S. help for rebuilding was the first major incentive that the Bush administration has dangled in front of Kenya's leaders. Earlier this month, the administration threatened to slap travel bans on those officials it accuses of inciting violence or obstructing the peace talks.
Although Kenya receives roughly $1 billion annually in U.S. assistance, most of that is for fighting diseases such as HIV/AIDS, and officials have said that money won't be revoked.
Still, as Rice flew in, Kibaki supporters bristled at what they saw as increasing international interference.
"I certainly don't think that my team will take pressure or dictation from any other country," Martha Karua, a member of Kibaki's negotiating team, told reporters.
Rice rejected the assertion and said that Kenyans, not Western envoys, were most desperate for a breakthrough.
"Kenya is a friend," Rice said. "It's not a matter of dictating a solution. It's Kenyans who are insisting that their political leaders ...find a solution to this crisis so Kenya can move forward."