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Last Updated: Wednesday, 2 January 2008, 16:06 GMT
Kenya diplomatic push for peace
Riot police in Nairobi on Wednesday 2 January 2008
Riot police are on patrol after fresh clashes in Nairobi's slums

Both sides in Kenya's disputed election have accused the other of violence as diplomatic efforts to defuse the country's political crisis intensify.

The US and UK are calling for opponents to work together and an African Union delegation, led by Ghana's President John Kufuor, is due in Kenya for talks.

About 300 people have now died in the post-poll bloodshed, including 35 burned to death sheltering in a church.

Many Kenyans have been forced to take refuge from armed mobs and looters.

Police in the capital Nairobi have set up barricades at the major roundabouts into the city and halted traffic.

As commuters cautiously start the working year, there are fears of renewed violence if a rally planned by the political opposition for Thursday goes ahead.

Call for compromise

Tens of thousands of people have already fled their homes amid the unrest.

Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga
I refuse to be asked to give the Kenyan people an anaesthetic so that they can be raped
Raila Odinga
Opposition leader

Mwai Kibaki, who was officially re-elected president in Thursday's vote, and opposition leader Raila Odinga, who says he was robbed of victory by fraud, traded accusations while calling for an end to the killing.

A government spokesman told the BBC Mr Odinga's supporters were "engaging in ethnic cleansing", while Mr Odinga said Mr Kibaki's camp was "guilty, directly, of genocide".

Asked if he would urge his supporters to calm down, Mr Odinga told the BBC: "I refuse to be asked to give the Kenyan people an anaesthetic so that they can be raped."

The African Union chairman, Ghanaian President John Kufuor, is due to visit the former British colony.

Map of Kenya

UK Foreign Minister David Miliband and US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice have issued a joint statement urging both sides to "engage in a spirit of compromise".

BBC world affairs correspondent Paul Reynolds says that what the US and UK mean by that phrase is there should be a government of national unity.

The message of the African Union chairman, whose visit is fully backed by Britain and the US, is expected to be the same, according to our correspondent.

The joint US-UK statement noted reports of "serious irregularities" in the vote count but urged Kenya's political leaders to unite in calling for an end to the bloodshed.

Poll watchdog 'pressured'

There were reports of several more deaths overnight, with two police officers killed in the western town of Kericho by youths armed with bows and arrows, a police official told AFP news agency.

But the country has been shocked by the deaths of dozens of people - mainly Kikuyu, the same tribe as Mr Kibaki - in a church that was torched in the Rift Valley town of Eldoret.

The BBC's Karen Allen has just returned from the church, which had been sheltering mostly women and children, and described a scene of utter devastation.

Kenyans travel by foot amid curbs on traffic in the capital Nairobi on Wednesday 2 January 2008

She saw two bodies outside the charred building, one a man who appeared to have been hacked to death with a machete and the burned remains of a woman.

Our correspondent says at least 500 terrified local people have taken refuge in a police station in Eldoret.

The Kenyan Red Cross has said at least 70,000 people have been displaced by the unrest in the Rift Valley.

Correspondents say the disorder is already starting to affect other parts of East Africa, to which Kenya is a gateway.

As the most industrialised country in the region, many of Kenya's neighbours depend on it for essential imports like cooking oil, salt and flour.

Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and eastern Congo, which all get their fuel from a refinery in Eldoret, are starting to see prices at the pump soar as their supplies run out.

The Ugandan Red Cross says nearly 700 refugees have arrived in the eastern province of Busia after fleeing Kenya's violence.

Mr Kibaki was declared the winner on Sunday after a controversial three-day counting process.

On Tuesday, election commission chairman Samuel Kivuitu said he had been under pressure to make the election results public from Mr Kibaki's Party of National Unity and a minor opposition party that recently split from Mr Odinga's Orange Democratic Movement.

EU observers said the poll "fell short of international standards" but the government has denied fraud.

MAIN ETHNIC GROUPS IN KENYAN PROVINCES
Map of Kenyan provinces showing majority ethnic group







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