"The purpose of this killing is to reduce the ODM majority."

'Crime of passion'

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"This election has been traumatic for Kenya. The major tribes in the country will have to overcome the feelings of fear and domination"

Mabraham, Toronto, Canada

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According to a police commander in Nairobi, the capital, the killing appeared to be linked to a romantic dispute.

"He was with a girl who is a police officer. He was shot by another policeman believed to be her boyfriend," he said.

Earlier this week, Melitus Were, another opposition legislator was shot dead outside the gate of his Nairobi home, in a murder that triggered rioting and ethnic killings.
   
The ODM said Were's killing was a "political assassination", although police said they were treating it as "murder".

Too was the legislator for the Ainamoi constituency in the Rift Valley.

Rival talks

With the death toll from the post-election violence nearing 1,000 and close to 300,000 people displaced, representatives of Mwai Kibaki, the president, and Raila Odinga, the opposition leader who accuses Kibaki of rigging the December election, met on Thursday for the first time together in Nairobi with Kofi Annan, the former UN chief.

Kibaki attended an African Union (AU) summit in neighbouring Ethiopia, despite efforts by the ODM to get the AU to exclude him.
  
The ODM warned that Kibaki's presence in the ranks of the heads of state would amount to a recognition of his election, despite local and international concerns over flaws in the vote count of  December 27 polls.
  
Protests against Kibaki's re-election quickly descended into ethnic violence amid longstanding tribal and economic tensions.
   
'Not ethnic cleansing'

The unrest was triggered by a poll dispute
but has now become an ethnic conflict AFP]
Meanwhile, the US backed away from comments by its most senior African envoy that Kenya's post-election violence is "clear ethnic cleansing".

Sean McCormack, a US state department spokesman, said the views expressed by Jendayi Frazer, the assistant secretary of state for African affairs, were not those of the government.

"She made some comments based on her firsthand assessment from a trip several weeks ago," he said on Wednesday.

"She said what she said. I am going to stick to what I said."

McCormack's remarks were aimed at easing reactions to the phrase and potential comparisons to Rwanda's genocide and the conflict in Sudan's Darfur region.

On Wednesday, Frazer said machete-wielding gangs had burnt homes and businesses in the western province, and were trying to force out the Kikuyu people, the tribe of Mwai Kibaki, the president.
 
McCormack said much of the violence in Kenya's Rift Valley was the result of "political tensions".
 
"There's a serious issue of people being displaced for a variety of different reasons, including being forced from their homes based on ethnic identification," he said, adding that the department's war crimes office was reviewing the incidents.

Tit-for-tat attacks

Frazer said that the US wanted an investigation into the violence, including the killing of civilians by police, and said guilty parties must be held accountable.
   
"There has been an organised effort to push out people from Rift Valley... It is clearly ethnic cleansing. I don't consider it genocide," she said.
   
"The cycle of retaliation has gone too far and has become more dangerous."

Kibaki, 76, says he is the legally elected president, but is open to sharing power.

Odinga, 63, says he was robbed by fraud during the vote count and wants Kibaki to stand down or allow a new election after a period of power-sharing.
   
Kenya's unrest may have been triggered by an election dispute but the tinder for ethnic conflict was there and has burned before at elections in 1992 and 1997.
   
Members of Kibaki's Kikuyu tribe were the first to be attacked, and are now seeking revenge on Luos, Luhyas and Kalenjins who largely back Odinga in what has turned into tit-for-tat attacks.