Kenyan police break up election demo

Police firing tear gas have broken up protests in Nairobi demanding an investigation into the disputed presidential elections that have sparked violence across Kenya.

Police firing tear gas have broken up protests in Nairobi demanding an investigation into the disputed presidential elections that have sparked violence across Kenya.

Winning President Mwai Kibaki has rejected demands for a new election or recount.

“No peace, no justice!” chanted women protesters from the main opposition party of Raila Odinga, who insists his rival stole the election.

“Kibaki is a thief!” the women yelled, before police stepped in.

“We are calling for truth about what happened to our votes and the votes of Kenyans,” said the chairman of the party’s women’s league, Jacqueline Oduol.

Since last month’s vote, political violence and ethnic clashes have left more than 500 people dead and 255,000 displaced from their homes. Protesters have been pitted against police and, in some areas, other tribes against Kibaki’s Kikuyu – resented for their domination of politics and business.

Neither Mr Kibaki nor Mr Odinga was showing signs of backing down in the election dispute. Mr Kibaki this week appointed allies to several cabinet posts, dampening hopes for a power-sharing compromise. And Mr Odinga has refused a meeting with Kibaki.

Kenyans for Peace with Truth and Justice, an umbrella group for civil societies formed after the elections, presented police today with documents demanding the prosecution of all 22 members of the Electoral Commission and some commission staff, including vote counters, accusing them of rigging the vote.

Commission Chairman Samuel Kivuiti himself has said he is not sure Mr Kibaki won the election, though he officially declared him the winner by a narrow margin of some 230,000 votes.

Kenyans for Peace presented a long list of alleged charges against the commissioners and some staff, including document forgery, subverting the rule of law, making out false certificates and abuse of office.

“The electoral process is so seriously flawed that, until that is redressed, and until we have truth and justice about the election, we are not going to have a viable society in Kenya,” said a spokesman.

Mr Kibaki said complaints should be taken to the courts, which he has packed with his allies during his five years in power.

The crisis has brought chaos to what has been one of Africa’s most stable democracies in a region rent by civil war and conflict.

A flurry of diplomatic efforts continued today. Mr Odinga was in a “tense meeting” with US envoy Jendayi Frazer, African Union chairman President John Kufuor of Ghana, four former African heads of state and the ambassadors from the US, Britain and France.

Mr Kibaki indicated he hoped to resolve the crisis through direct talks with the opposition.

Mr Odinga’s party – the Orange Democratic Movement, or ODM – won 95 parliament seats and Mr Kibaki’s party 43 in legislative elections held the same day as the presidential vote, meaning it would be difficult for Mr Kibaki to govern without making some overture to Mr Odinga.

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