‘Million-man’ rally to kick off amid tension in Kenya


Nairobi : Defeated Kenyan presidential candidate Raila Odinga vowed to defy a police ban on a “million-man” rally and was set to meet his supporters Thursday at a downtown Nairobi park to inaugurate himself as president, charging that President Mwai Kibaki stole the win from him.

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A large security detail were deployed in Uhuru Park, where Odinga’s party, the Orange Democratic Movement, said a million people would rally behind its candidate.

The rally, which has been banned by the government, has raised fears of more violence as the country continues to be gripped by post-election unrest that has killed at least 300 people and marked a disturbing change in the usually peaceful country.

Odinga has charged that the polls, which he lost by 230,000 votes, were flawed and has demanded Kibaki step down. Kibaki’s Party of National Unity has insisted Kibaki was the rightful winner of the Dec 27 vote.

South African Archbishop and activist Desmond Tutu arrived to the country Thursday in a bid to bring the candidates together to find a solution to the political stalemate that risks destabilizing East Africa’s largest economy.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon expressed shock Wednesday at the violence in Kenya and the deteriorating humanitarian situation there.

He reminded leaders of the Kenyan government, religious and political parties of their “legal and moral responsibility” to protect innocent lives regardless of their racial, religious and ethnic background.

The violence that has marred the post-election period has exposed Kenya’s deep-rooted tribal tensions with Odinga’s Luo people pitted against Kibaki’s Kikuyu tribe and some of the nation’s 42 other ethnic groups allying with the two main factions.