Kenya opposition plans fresh rally

Decision taken after police prevent protest against Kibaki's re-election as president.

    A previously banned rally in Nairobi is set to go ahead on Friday [AFP] 


    Kenya's opposition has said that it will hold a mass rally of thousands of its supporters in a park in Nairobi, the capital, on Friday.

    Raila Odinga, the opposition leader, had called for a "million man march" on Thursday to protest against Mwai Kibaki's re-election in the December 27 vote, insisting the poll was rigged.

    But when thousands of his supporters left the capital's slums to march to the rally, they were stopped by police using tear gas, water cannon and live ammunition.

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    William Ruto, a leader of Odinga's Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), said: "We don't want any more lives lost. Our fight is not with ordinary Kenyans. Our fight is with Mwai Kibaki."

    There were no immediate reports of casualties in Thursday's clashes with police.

    A week of post-election violence has killed more than 300 people and threatens to destroy Kenya's reputation as one of Africa's most promising democracies and strongest economies.

    Kibaki said on Thursday that he was "deeply disturbed by the senseless violence" and was ready to hold talks with "concerned parties once the nation is calm".

    He read a statement to reporters, but did not take questions.

    Genocide charges

    Earlier, hundreds of politicians supporting Kibaki urged the International Criminal Court to bring genocide charges against the opposition.

    "We are calling for ... the indicting of Orange Democratic Movement leaders by the International Criminal Court on charges of ethnic cleansing and genocide," Mohammed Yusuf Haji, an MP, said reading from a statement.

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    However, Odinga also made allegations of genocide.
       
    He said: "This is genocide being conducted by the political class illegally sitting in state house."

    International observers said the election fell short of democratic standards and both sides have accused each other of electoral fraud.

    Paul East, the deputy head of the Commonwealth election observer group, said that Kenyans had "no confidence in the final results that were announced".

    As such, he said it was important to have outside judges deciding on who the winner is or whether to hold another election especially after electoral officials said they saw documents being tampered with.

    Mediation efforts

    In a sign of growing international concern, Desmond Tutu, the South African Nobel peace laureate, arrived in Nairobi to try to mediate between Kibaki and Odinga.

    Odinga supporters say they will continue
    their protests against the poll results [AFP]

    John Kufuor, the chairman of the African Union, is also expected to speak to Kenya's president by telephone.

    Andrew Simmons, Al Jazeera's Africa bureau chief, reported: "While a sense of calm is apparent, this crisis is nowhere near being solved.

    "The president said that he will attempt at mediation efforts when the political climate is right - but that could be weeks away."

    Uganda's president is the only prominent African leader so far to endorse Kibaki's victory.
       
    "President Museveni telephoned President Kibaki to congratulate him on his re-election as president," said a statement by a spokesman for Museveni, who has been in power since 1986 and himself won an election marred by fraud claims in 2005.
       
    The only other nation to congratulate Kibaki has been the US, but Washington has since expressed concerns at election violence and irregularities.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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