Kenyan president told to concede

Violence spreads after delay to official result provokes fears of ballot rigging.

    Several people are said to have been killed in the violence [Reuters] 

    Raila Odinga, the Kenyan opposition leader, has called for the government to concede defeat or allow a recount in a presidential election, saying fraud had stripped his rival's administration of legitimacy.


    President Mwai Kibaki's party called Odinga's accusations on Thursday a "crime" against democracy, but said a recount would be fine because it would expose "massive rigging" by the opposition.


    Odinga also appealed for calm in his first public comments since claims of vote-tampering sparked tribal clashes, hurting Kenya's reputation for relative stability in a volatile region.


    Odinga said his Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) won almost three times as many parliamentary seats as Kibaki's Party of National Unity (PNU) in Thursday's polls.


    "This government has lost all legitimacy and cannot govern," he said. "I wish to appeal to President Mwai Kibaki to acknowledge and respect the will of the people of Kenya and honourably concede defeat."


    PNU said it had won, and a recount would prove it. "We would still win - by a bigger margin," a spokesman said.

    Victory claim

    On Saturday, Odinga party claimed victory in the country's presidential elections after counting delays continued to spark violence across the east African nation.
    However partial election results released by the election commission put Odinga just 38,000 votes ahead of Kibaki, the incumbent, with 86 per cent of votes counted, Reuters news agency reported.

    Kibaki's party said on Saturday it would wait for results provided by the Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK).
    A party spokesman said: "Kangaroo results given by any Tom, Dick or Harry deserve every contempt."
    Samuel Kivuitu. the ECK chairman, said: "How many times have we met mad people on the road saying 'I own this shop,' and the man has no trousers? ...
    "I can even announce that I am president of Kenya. Will that make me president of Kenya?"
    If Odinga - a wealthy businessman who presents himself as a defender of the poor - does win, Kibaki will become the first of Kenya's three post-independence leaders to be removed by the ballot box.

    International concern 
    In opposition strongholds hundreds of machete-wielding youths from rival tribes fought, looted and burned homes.

    Police fired teargas and several people have reportedly been killed in scenes marring what foreign observers had praised as a broadly peaceful election.
    Al Jazeera's Andrew Simmons, reporting from the Nairobi, the capital, said that international observers are now concerned about the growing violence in the country.

    He said: "They have not officially commented, but privately, they have said they are saddened at the loss of life, and frustrated at the vote counting delays that have provoked clashes."

    Continued violence 

    Disturbances erupted across the country from Kisumu in the west to Mombasa on the coast, pitting Odinga's Luo supporters against members of Kibaki's Kikuyu ethnic group.
    The tribes, two of Kenya's biggest, have a long history of rivalry during the country's four decades of independence.
    Eric Ochieng, a taxi cyclist in Kisumu City, said: "We are sensing a plan to rig the elections."

    "We will not accept this."

    In Nairobi, violence broke out in several poor areas while groups of angry supporters of the ODM started gathering to form demonstrations.
    An AFP correspondent said hundreds of ODM supporters clashed with riot police in Kibera on Saturday morning, shouting the slogans "No Raila, No Kenya" and "We want our rights".
    Paul Jacob, a Kikuyu resident of Kibera, said: "ODM supporters are burning and stealing our property."  

    Njoroge Wanyoike, another Kikuyu resident, said: "We need security because we know they will return. They have  machetes, clubs and they are in their thousands ... they almost killed  us."
    Economic success

    Kibaki has been credited with improving Kenya's economy.
    However, his attempt to rid its political system of rampant corruption has largely failed and Kenya still struggles with poverty and ethnic violence.
    Odinga, a 62-year-old former political prisoner, has promised change and help for the poor.

    He also aims to enlist support of the economically powerful Kikuyus, ensure a peaceful handover and ensuring the business community that he does not hold a socialist agenda for the country.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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