Kenya’s main opposition party raised the stakes in its tense stand-off with the government today over its disputed election by calling for three days of mass protests next week.
Raila Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement, which claims President Mwai Kibaki rigged his victory, wants to flood the streets with demonstrators despite waves of violence which have already led to 500 deaths.
Police have banned all rallies since trouble broke out after the vote on December 27 that returned Mr Kibaki to power for another five-year term.
They have used tear gas, water cannons and live bullets fired over people’s heads to block previous attempts to assemble.
But a spokesman for the ODM called on police to help protesters by providing them with security.
“Kenyans are entitled to protest peacefully at this blatant violation of their fundamental rights,” the spokesman said, announcing rallies in more than 20 locations for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
“Due to the large numbers of people expected we request the police to provide us with security,” he added.
The party said the protest call was a response to the failure of African Union talks to resolve the dispute over the vote.