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Published:February 4th, 2008 08:51 EST
Cyril Ramaphosa withdraws as UN Mediator in Kenya

Cyril Ramaphosa withdraws as UN Mediator in Kenya

By SOP newswire

Former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan's choice to lead mediation efforts in Kenya has withdrawn from the process, after the government suggested he was biased in favor of the opposition.

Cyril Ramaphosa, a South African businessman, had arrived in Nairobi Friday to help Mr. Annan in the negotiations.

It was not immediately clear what effect Ramaphosa's withdrawal would have on the talks, which are aimed at ending weeks of violence following the December reelection of President Mwai Kibaki. The opposition says the voting was rigged.

Mr. Annan said Sunday that both sides believe the discussions can stop the killing, safeguard the delivery of humanitarian aid, and settle Kenya's political impasse.

Police say gangs armed with machetes and poisoned arrows are wandering through western Kenya.

Opposition leader Raila Odinga has called for the deployment of international peacekeepers in Kenya.

He says forces from the African Union or United Nations would adopt a more neutral role in the crisis than local security forces.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.