Kenya president 'must admit defeat'

Fears of an ethnic conflict as an opposition leader insists he won December's vote.

    There are fears that post-election violence could develop into an ethnic conflict [AFP]
    "I am ready to talk to Mr Kibaki on condition that he is ready to admit before the people of Kenya that he lost the elections."

    Results disputed

    Most of Kibaki's cabinet lost their seats in parliament after elections on December 27 but Kibaki was declared the winner of the presidential poll.

    The discrepancy between the results, unexplained delays in vote tallying and anomalies that included a 115 per cent turnout in one constituency have fuelled allegations of vote rigging.

    European Union election observers have said that the poll fell short of international standards and have called for an independent audit into the results.

    Raphael Tuju, Kenya's foreign minister, told Al Jazeera that there was no reason for Kibaki to resign and and problems with the election should be dealt with through the courts rather than through protest.

    "Whatever is to be done, whether we are going to have a re-run, that has to be decided in a constitutional way," he said.

    "You just don't decide because one of the parties is aggrieved, because one party complains, or one person complains, ok you are not happy with the results of the election lets have a re-run."

    Ethnic violence

    The death toll has continued to rise and the continuing violence has raised fears that Kenya could descend into ethnic conflict.

    "One tribe is targeting another one in a fashion that can rightly be described
    as ethnic cleansing"

    Senior police official

    The Daily Nation newspaper said on Tuesday that it feared that Kenya was on "the verge of a complete meltdown".

    Most deaths have come from police firing at protesters, witnesses say, prompting accusations from rights groups and the opposition that Kibaki has made Kenya a "police state".

    Slum areas in Nairobi were overrun by rioters burning down shops belonging to members of Kibaki's Kikuyu tribe and looting anything from refrigerators to basic goods.

    In the Mathare slum, Odinga supporters, shouting "No Raila, no peace," torched a minibus and attacked Kikuyu travellers.

    "One tribe is targeting another one in a fashion that can rightly be described as ethnic cleansing," a senior police official in the western town of Eldoret told the AFP news agency on condition of anonymity
    Odinga comes from the Luo, the second largest tribal grouping in Kenya after the Kikuyu but he told Al Jazeera that his support was based on ethnicity.

    Church burnt down

    In Elderot, up to 30 people were reportedly burnt to death when a church in which 200 Kikuyu were sheltering was set on fire.

    "Some youths came to the church. They fought with the boys who were guarding it, but they were overpowered and the youths set fire to the church," a local reporter said.

    In video

    Violence worsens in Kenya

    The area around Eldoret is a multi-ethnic but traditionally dominated by the Kalenjin tribe. It suffered ethnic violence in 1992 and 1997 when hundreds of people - mainly Kikuyus - were killed and thousands more displaced in land clashes.

    A Catholic priest in the town told the Reuters news agency that thousands of terrified Kikuyu had taken shelter in churches.

    "There are four to five thousand in the main cathedral, and thousands in other churches," Father Paul Brennan said. "Houses are being burned. It is too dangerous to go outside and count the dead."

    An estimated 70,000 people have been displaced by the unrest in western Kenya, the Kenya Red Cross said.
    Aerial video footage taken by the group showed hundreds of houses on fire, farms set ablaze and road blocks every 10km.
    'Hooliganism and thuggery'

    Odinga said that people should stop "engaging in acts of hooliganism and thuggery".

    Odinga has called on his supporters to
    gather in Nairobi on Thursday [AFP]

    "We say that out demonstrations must be peaceful, we are going to carry out demonstrations and protests countrywide, but in a peaceful way," he said. 

    Police have banned a mass rally planned for Nairobi on Thursday saying that it does not have enough resources to provide security for the event.

    Michela Wrong, an author and journalist, told Al Jazeera that although the violence was taking place along ethnic lines it was really about the divisions between rich and poor.

    "That's the ugly surface of a much more profound split. There is a sense that this was an elitist government, it was a government that was really only interested itself, in its own particular group," she said.

    "They were doling out jobs to their own people, all the key ministeries were in the hands of that group but at the same time were ignoring the needs of the poor." 

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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