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Last Updated: Thursday, 3 January 2008, 19:39 GMT
Kibaki 'open to opposition talks'
Man stands in front of burning shop in Nairobi
Kenya has been convulsed by nearly a week of unrest

President Mwai Kibaki has broken his silence over the unrest gripping Kenya by making a televised appeal for calm.

Mr Kibaki said that once the violence ended he would be prepared to speak to the opposition, who claim he was wrongly credited with election victory.

Kenyan Attorney General Amos Wako has called for an independent investigation into the 27 December poll result.

More than 300 people have been killed and some 70,000 displaced since Sunday amid claims that the vote was rigged.

In his first public comments on the events, Mr Kibaki said: "I am ready to have dialogue with the concerned parties once the nation is calm and the political temperatures are lowered enough for constructive and productive engagement."

We're not going to dictate the outcome of any discussions between the two parties
US State Department spokesman Sean McCormack

However, he warned that "those who continue to violate the law will face its full force" and made it clear that he thought that the opposition was to blame for the violence.

"I am deeply disturbed by the senseless violence instigated by some leaders in pursuit of their personal political agenda," he said.

The Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) has claimed its leader Raila Odinga is the "people's president" and has demanded a re-run of the poll.

Tally meddling claim

On Thursday, opposition supporters were forced to postpone a banned mass rally in Nairobi after they clashed with police using tear gas and water cannon to disperse the crowds.

Thousands of people had tried to gather in the city's Uhuru (Freedom) Park, many of them pouring out of Kibera slum and other shanty towns just after dawn, but were prevented from reaching the centre of Nairobi by a massive security presence.

This is a country that has been held up as a model of stability. This picture has been shattered
Desmond Tutu
South African Archbishop

The opposition has decided to postpone the event for now with different party officials variously giving Friday or 8 January as a date for a possible fresh attempt to march.

The ODM's William Ruto told the BBC that another attempt at staging a rally would be made on Friday, but that a permit was also being sought for 8 January.

On Thursday the ODM rejected the Kenyan attorney general's call for an inquiry into the election result.

Mr Wako said on national television that "a proper tally of the valid certificates returned and confirmed should be undertaken immediately".

The ODM has accused the government of using the opportunity of the past few days to further adjust the tally in its favour.

The BBC's Adam Mynott in Nairobi says that the comments illustrate just how far apart the two sides are as the nation sinks deeper into chaos and violence.

EU-US confusion

Earlier, a spokeswoman for European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana said that the EU and US had agreed to push Mr Kibaki and his opposition rival to consider a coalition government, following talks between Mr Solana and US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Demonstrators running from police in Nairobi 3/1/08
The latest disorder prompted the Nairobi Stock Exchange to shut

However, US State Department spokesman Sean McCormack later said that was not what was agreed.

"It's not quite how the secretary, at least from our side, would characterise the situation," Mr McCormack said.

"We're not going to dictate the outcome of any discussions between the two parties," he added, saying that the US was urging both sides to "have a political dialogue that leads to a political solution, whatever that may be".

South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu has flown in to try to mediate in the crisis.

The Nobel laureate was quoted by Reuters news agency as saying: "This is a country that has been held up as a model of stability. This picture has been shattered."

However, plans for African Union leader John Kufuor to travel to Kenya on Thursday to spearhead mediation efforts have not come to fruition.

Stock exchange closed

As well as the clashes in Nairobi on Thursday there were also running battles between police and youths in the coastal city of Mombasa.

HAVE YOUR SAY
The scenes in my country are really scary. People have been abandoned by their so-called leaders
Francis, Nairobi

In the township of Bombolulu on its northern fringes, police fired live rounds over the heads of a group of demonstrators, who chanted: "No peace!"

And the BBC's Karen Allen in Eldoret says targeted arson attacks continue in the western Kenyan town, where at least 30 died on Tuesday when a church was set alight.

The latest disorder prompted the Nairobi Stock Exchange to close barely an hour after opening.

Supporters of Mr Kibaki (a member of Kenya's predominant Kikuyu tribe) and Mr Odinga (from the Luo community) have accused each other of genocide and ethnic cleansing in the post-poll unrest.

Mr Kibaki invited all MPs to crisis talks at state house on Wednesday but Mr Odinga's Orange Democratic Movement refused and demanded the president quit.

Samuel Kivuitu, head of Kenya's election commission, which declared that Mr Kibaki had been re-elected, has told the BBC he could not say for sure if he had won the poll fairly.

Nairobi map




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