Opposition calls for mass rallies across Kenya

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Friday, January 11, 2008

Kenya's President Mwai Kibaki

Kenya's political opposition says mediation efforts with the government over Kenya's flawed December elections have collapsed and the opposition is now calling for mass rallies across the country next week.

Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) Secretary-General Anyang Nyongo called for Kenyans in towns around Kenya to gather for three days of protests next week, in a move that it hopes will mimic the Ukrainian revolution that led to the overturning of flawed election results.

Just minutes after the plan was announced, Kenya's police commissioner said the rallies would not be allowed.

Leaders of the opposition laid blame for the country's political deadlock in the lap of President Mwai Kibaki's government which says the opposition should bring its complaints to court. Opposition leaders says that the vote count, which has been surrounded by allegations of rigging, was a violation of the constitution and that the courts are in Mr. Kibaki's pocket.

Flanked by opposition presidential candidate Raila Odinga and ODM lawmakers who won parliamentary seats, Nyongo called the vote-rigging and the government's stance a betrayal of the rights of all Kenyans.

"The Kibaki side does not want a just solution," he said. "It is hell-bent on clinging to power regardless of the verdict of the people of Kenya. The Kibaki side wants only to dictate terms that we should follow. There are no compromises and no second thoughts about what they have done. Talks are just an opportunity for them to delay and silence us, while they consolidate themselves in power."

At least 500 people have been killed and more than 250,000 displaced in violence that erupted since Kenya's vote, and neither side has shown any willingness to compromise. On Thursday, Ghana President John Kufuor left Kenya after failing to achieve a deal between the two sides. File:2007 and 2008 Violence in Kenya.jpg

Previous violence in Kenya
(Image missing from Commons: image; log)

President Kibaki has named several members of his new Cabinet despite the controversy over the vote, which international observers say appears to have been rigged. Almost all of those appointed are political allies, a fact that the opposition has said is proof of his unwillingness to compromise.

The government says it is committed to constructive dialogue, but opposition leader Nyongo says that is a sham.

"Stealing is still going on, cheating is still going on, and quite honestly, Kibaki should be embarrassed to be, embarrassed every day by the fact that he stole," he added. "I don't think it's a very good sign to be a head of state who has the extra title of eminent thief."

Meanwhile on Thursday, former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan was to arrive with several prominent African leaders to try to broker a compromise. Mr. Odinga's team has said it only wants talks to take place through a mediator, while President Kibaki has insisted on face-to-face negotiations.

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