Kenya's government and main opposition party have agreed to take steps to try to end the post-election violence that has killed some 900 people.
Former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan said on Friday night both sides agreed on a framework for the talks he is leading in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.
Annan said both sides would discuss stopping the violence, the delivery of humanitarian aid and ending the political impasse. According to Annan, the two sides believe they can deal with those items within 15 days.
The first document is an elaborate agenda for the talks. The second lists 18 specific actions to be taken to stop the violence that has escalated dangerously since last December's contested presidential election, Annan told journalists in Nairobi.
"We have agreed an agenda covering both short-term issues and also long-term issues. We are off to a good start," he said.
The deal was agreed by representatives of both President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga. The announcement came after fresh outbreaks of fighting left at least 18 people dead in the west of the country.
The former UN chief gave no details on how the sides would handle those problems or how long it would take to deal with another agenda point, a long-term solution to Kenya's political tensions.
Political analysts said the two parties are still very far apart following a hardline stance taken by President Kibaki in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, saying he won December's disputed presidential election "fairly and squarely" while Odinga claiming it was rigged.
Kibaki whose disputed re-election sparked nationwide protests insisted that the security situation in his country is "under control".
Violence Friday in western Kenya left at least 10 people dead, including a policeman attacked by a crowd in the village of Anaimoi, the hometown of an opposition lawmaker, David Too, who was shot dead on Thursday.
Annan said the talks are due to last a month and items on the agenda include ending the violence and humanitarian situation, resolving the political crisis, land and historical injustices.
"We believe within seven to 15 days, we should be able to tackle the first three agenda items. The first is to take immediate action to stop the violence," he said.
The parties agreed that the first three agenda items would be resolved within seven to 15 days from the date the dialogue began, January 29. The fourth agenda item would be resolved within one year of that date.
The agreement on the two documents was reached at the third session of negotiations that were launched in Nairobi on Tuesday of this week.
Annan said the parties had agreed on 18 action points to end the violence, including demobilizing militia gangs, refraining from provocative speeches and ending text messages which have been inciting hatred.
They fall into three clusters relating to the public, to the police and to the restoration of fundamental rights and civil liberties.
Annan criticized hate messages being broadcast on local FM vernacular stations. "We appeal to them to understand that it is one nation, one Kenya," he said, "They should not destroy it. They should send out messages of reconciliation. They should plead for nonviolence and tell people to avoid vengeance and not to take the law into their own hands."
His announcement followed a visit by his successor, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who called on all sides in Kenya to stop the violence.
Ban who arrived in Nairobi from Addis Ababa on Friday urged Kenya to ensure that it wins back the trust of the international community as well as its reputation of being a peacemaker.
"We have come to appeal to Kenyan leaders to inspire the world yet again by resolving differences peacefully and resuming the serious work of building a future for all Kenya's children," he said.
Ban called on Kenyans to stop the violence, urging Kenyan leaders to look past personal and partisan interests to resolve the bitter dispute over last month's presidential election. But there have been further reports of bloodshed, rioting and fighting in parts of the Rift Valley.
Police said a 3,000-strong mob armed with bows and arrows, spears, clubs and machetes, killed at least 10 people, including a policeman, in western Kenya.
(Xinhua News Agency February 3, 2008)