Kenya opposition demands new elections, protests continue


Nairobi : The opposition in Kenya Friday demanded that President Mwai Kibaki step down after his controversial election victory and prepare the path for new elections within three months, as protests continued in the country.

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According to the secretary-general of the Orange Democracy Movement (ODM), Anyang Nyongo, the new elections would have to take place under independent observation and without the current electoral commission.

Government spokesman Alfred Mutua said Kibaki was not opposed to new elections “in principle”, given they were ordered by a court.

ODM candidate Raila Odinga was narrowly defeated by Kibaki in last week’s controversial presidential elections. He does not recognize the election results and speaks of fraud.

Followers of Odinga took to the streets again on Friday, attempting to get into Nairobi city centre.

However, considerably fewer people took part in the protests compared to Thursday, when police dispersed a planned mass rally with water cannons and teargas.

Kirbaki’s victory was announced three days after the elections and apparently under pressure from the government.

International observers as well as several members of the electoral commission have condemned irregularities during the vote counting and doubt the correctness of the result.

The dispute has caused bloody riots in Kenya leaving more than 300 dead.

A UN spokesman in Nairobi on Friday estimated around 180,000 refugees being displaced by the violence. Around 500,000 people had to rely on humanitarian aid, it was said.

However, while aid organization began supplying those in need, they only have access to part of the victims. Many areas in the country’s West are inaccessible due to the security situation, a Red Cross spokesman said.

South African Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu met Kibaki on Friday. He was later hopeful that government and opposition would come to the negotiating table. Tutu had already been in talks with Odinga on Thursday.

US top diplomat Jendayi Frazer, in charge of the US government’s Africa policy, was also expected in Nairobi.

The planned visit of John Kufuor, who is the president of Ghana and the chairman of the African Union (AU), meanwhile was delayed this week.

The Daily Nation newspaper reported on Friday that the AU still had to decide on the basis for negotiations. Odinga’s party has already agreed to Kufuor as negotiator.