Kenya opposition rally falters

Calm returns to streets but aid agencies warn of a growing humanitarian crisis.

    A man walks through a church in Nairobi that was burnt in the violence on Thursday [EPA]
    Political efforts to resolve the deadlock between Mwai Kibaki and the opposition leader, Raila Odinga, continued as the US sent its senior Africa diplomat to Kenya.

    Odinga claims the election that was narrowly won by Kibaki was rigged and has vowed to stage a protest a day until the president concedes defeat.

    Coalition proposed

    Jendayi Frazer, the US assistant secretary of state for African affairs, will attempt to broker a peace on Saturday.

    In video

    Haru Mutasa reports on minority tribes being forced from their homes

    Meanwhile Kibaki was said to be open to the idea of a coalition government to break the deadlock and end turmoil according to Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the South African Nobel laureate who is also acting as an unofficial mediator.

    "The president was not averse to the formation of coalitions - but clearly there has to be an acceptance that there is a governing authority in the country," Tutu told reporters after a meeting with Kibaki on Friday.

    He had separately met Odinga, who heads the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) on Thursday.

    "There is a great deal of hope since both the ODM and government have indicated they are open to negotiations," Tutu said.

    "They are still putting conditions ... but I think there is this eagerness."

    Bernard Kouchner, the French foreign minister, added his voice to those who claim that the election on December 27 was rigged.

    "They say that it's an ethnic war, yes, but it's also a war for democracy," Kouchner commented on RTL radio.

    "Were the elections rigged? I believe so, many believe they were," he said.

    Humanitarian crisis

    On Thursday, police had used water cannon and tear gas to disperse Odinga supporters marching on the city centre for a so-called "million-man" rally designed to declare the 62-year-old the "people's president".

    Tutu, right, said Kibaki, left, is open to
    the idea of a coalition [AFP]

    The situation was calm in Nairobi on Friday although Andrew Simmons, Al Jazeera's correspondent in the capital, said he had heard reports of rioting from the port city of Mombasa in the east of the country.

    Riot police were reportedly on the streets to contain the violence that may have occurred after Friday prayers.

    The scale of the humanitarian crisis in Kenya continued to unfold with tens of thousands of people displaced in rural area.

    Aid agencies have said there are problems of people fleeing for their safety in the west of the country and with the supply line from Mombasa on the east coast.

    Nicholas Wafuna from World Vision said the situation was critical with reports of up to half a million people having been displaced.

    "These people need food, they need water,they need sheleter material and blankets," he told Al Jazeera.

    "Most of these internally displaced people are women and children, we need to protect their rights, we all have a responsibility to do that."

    Many Kenyans say they have had enough of the ethnic tensions and violence in the country.

    "We're tired, we're not going to march," said Samuel Muhati, a resident of the Mathare slum, where thousands of demonstrators battled police on Thursday.

    "Let the fighting stop."

    One radio station, Kiss FM, even took the step of banning politicians from the air on Friday saying that the comments from political leaders were increasing tensions rather than defusing them.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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