: 2009/01

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Crisis talks for Kenya coalition

"We are demanding $25 million from the Saudi owners of the tanker. We do not want long-term discussions to resolve the matter,"

Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga is holding crisis talks with the leaders of his party amid complaints he is being sidelined by the president.

President Mwai Kibaki on Friday signed a controversial new media law opposed by Mr Odinga - one of several issues dividing the power-sharing partners.

The pair agreed to work together last year to end clashes over disputed polls which left some 1,500 people dead.

Some Kenyans fear political bickering could lead to renewed violence.

The BBC's Josphat Makori in Nairobi says tension has been brewing between the coalition partners for some time.

But he says the political hornets' nest was really stirred up on Friday when President Kibaki approved the media law, which journalists say will muzzle the press.

Mr Odinga had asked the president to reconsider the measures, after it was bitterly opposed by journalists.

Freedom fighters

Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) parliamentary group secretary Ababu Namwamba told Kenya's Standard newspaper: "As partners in this coalition, we are asking for some respect."

Parliament, where the ODM and its allies hold a slim majority, has approved the bill but correspondents say Mr Odinga's party changed its position following representations from journalist groups and media owners.

Mr Odinga is meeting the four most senior party officials on Monday and then later in the week the party's full leadership is expected to meet again in Nairobi to discuss the way forward on the National Accord.

That agreement, brokered by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan in February 2008, paved the way for the ODM to share power with President Kibaki's Party of National Unity (PNU).

The ODM has been unhappy with recent decisions involving the constitution of an interim electoral commission - the original was disbanded after the disputed poll - and the appointment of ambassadors.

Nobel laureate Wangari Maathai on Sunday criticised the president for signing the bill, saying he had turned his back against a media that had elevated him to the presidency.

Kenyans would not surrender basic freedoms for which they had fought for many years, she said.

The Kenyan Communications Amendment Bill gives the authorities the power to raid media offices, tap phones and control broadcast content on grounds of national security.

President Kibaki said on Friday that the bill was crucial for Kenya's economic development and would safeguard moral values.

Correspondents say the former British colony, which won independence in 1963, boasts one of the region's liveliest media scenes.

Chaos grips major DR Congo city

Thousands of displaced people have been fleeing There are reports of chaotic scenes in Goma in the Democratic Republic of Congo, as police try to arrest soldiers whom the UN says seem out of control.


Zimbabwe stands 'on a precipice'

Zimbabwe is standing on a "precipice" as official results from Saturday's general election start to trickle in, the opposition has said. Leading Movement for Democratic Change official Tendai Biti says party leader Morgan Tsvangirai has won 60% of the vote, against 30% for Robert Mugabe.>>

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