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Last Updated: Friday, 18 January 2008, 16:55 GMT
Kenyan opposition change tactics
By Mark Doyle
BBC world affairs correspondent

Raila Odinga votes in the election for speaker of parliament
Kenya's parliament has elected an opposition speaker for the first time
The opposition in Kenya has said that Friday will be the last day for now of street protests against the results of last month's presidential election, which it says were rigged by the ruling party.

The Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) said it would be switching to economic boycotts against rich businessmen associated with the government, as well as capitalising on moves in the Kenyan parliament.

The opposition's new tactics will target a group of power brokers known locally as the "Mount Kenya Mafia" - a loose clique of rich businesspeople and politicians who support President Mwai Kibaki.

The logic is that Mr Kibaki's ruling Party of National Unity (PNU) derives its power from money and patronage, not the popular vote which it claims to have won.

Constitutional steps

ODM spokesman Salim Lone said one of Kenya's biggest banks, Equity Bank, and other businesses, including a prominent bus company and a major dairy producer, would be targeted by the boycotts.

He said the opposition's position in parliament would also be exploited.

The first sitting of the new parliament after last month's contested polls saw the election, for the first time in Kenya, of an opposition speaker.

Kenyan riot police confront opposition protesters (18 January 2007)
The apparent change of tactics... may just be a realisation that the security forces, loyal to the government, have demonstrated their control of the streets

There has been a long tradition in Kenya of governments co-opting, or buying off, opposition members to force through legislation or hide corruption.

Mr Lone said this co-opting was often done illegally and that the new speaker would stop it.

"Control of the speakership will ensure that the rule of law is observed in parliament," he said.

"The government will not be able to poach individual members from the opposition by offering them positions. So I think the parliament will be a major struggle for us as well".

The apparent change of tactics by the opposition may indicate confidence in constitutional steps rather than mass protests.

Or it may just be a realisation that the security forces, loyal to the government, have demonstrated their control of the streets.

Whatever the case, many ordinary Kenyans will simply be hoping that the new tactics mean a respite in the violence.

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