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Kenyan parties trade accusations, violence continues

thecheers.org    2007-12-30 06:55:15    

Kenyan parties squaring off in a disputed presidential vote traded accusations of fraud and incitement as Kenyans anxiously awaited results in tense presidential polls that have ignited ethnic violence around the country.
Nairobi (dpa) - Kenyan parties squaring off in a disputed presidential vote traded accusations of fraud and incitement as Kenyans anxiously awaited results in tense presidential polls that have ignited ethnic violence around the country.

At least three people have been killed throughout the East African nation since riots and looting broke out Saturday, with machete- wielding youths attacking supporters of rival camps in what has stirred fears of a wider conflict.

Opposition candidate Raila Odinga demanded Sunday the incumbent concede defeat and asked that all votes be recounted to ensure there were no instances of rigging in what has shaped up to be Kenya's closest polls.

Incumbent Mwai Kibaki's Party of National Unity (PNU) meanwhile charged Odinga's Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) with inciting the countrywide violence that has pitted ethnic Kikuyu Kibaki supporters against Odinga's Luo tribe and has elicited international condemnation.

"ODM is responsible for all the incitement that is taking place in the country right now," said Danson Mungatana, a member of parliament re-elected on a PNU ticket.

Kibaki trails Odinga with 38,000 votes with only 19 constituencies left to announce, but ballot counting was suspended late Saturday when a scuffle broke out at the Electoral Commission of Kenya, forcing the commissioner to quit reading the results.

The official announcement of president was set to happen Sunday, three days after the polls.

"I appeal to Mwai Kibaki to acknowledge and accept the will of the people of Kenya and honourably concede defeat," said Odinga, 62, a flamboyant leader, who a day earlier had claimed victory according to his own tally.

PNU also declared itself winner Saturday as rioting and ethnic violence erupted across the country over the delay in naming the president.

Some clashes subsided overnight but pockets of disturbances ignited again Sunday in Kisumu in western Kenya, an Odinga stronghold, and in other parts of the country including the capital Nairobi's tense slums.

Odinga called for a recount of all votes from Kenya's 210 constituencies as ODM members yet again accused PNU of rigging the vote.

"The president is trying to win dishonourably and the people of Kenya will not allow him to do so," said Anyang Nyong'o, the party's secretary.

The European Union election observer mission had praised the large turnout and good conduct at Thursday's polls, but its chief Alexander Graf Lambsdorff said Saturday there were "question marks," like some monitors being turned away at polling stations during counting.

Diplomats have highlighted the importance of a smooth end to these elections, with Kenya seen as a beacon of peace in a troubled region.

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