- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 5, 2008

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Kenya’s opposition party demanded new presidential elections yesterday as thousands of hungry slum dwellers swamped aid workers after days of deadly riots over the disputed vote cut supplies of groceries and water.

A spokesman for President Mwai Kibaki said there would only be a rerun of the Dec. 27 election if a court orders it. Kenya’s high court, which can annul the vote and force a new one, was largely appointed by Mr. Kibaki.

“The government doesn’t reject or accept this. Only the court can call for the rerun of the election,” Alfred Mutua said.

Mr. Kibaki won a second term in the election, but international observers say the vote tally was flawed. His rival, Raila Odinga, accused him of stealing the election.

About 300 people have been killed and 100,000 left homeless in a week of turbulence that took an alarming ethnic twist, pitting other tribes against Mr. Kibaki’s Kikuyu people. Shops and homes have been looted and houses and cars set ablaze, bringing chaos to a country considered an island of stability in violence-plagued East Africa.

The country should prepare “for a new election of the president,” said Anyang Nyongo, secretary-general of Mr. Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement.

“This is about a democracy and justice,” Mr. Nyongo said. “We shall continue to defend and promote the right of Kenyans so that the democratic process should be fulfilled.”

Trouble spread yesterday from Nairobi, the capital, to the coastal tourist city of Mombasa, where police hurled tear gas to scatter more than 1,000 protesters.

In Nairobi, Odinga supporters vowed that street protests would continue yesterday, but none materialized. Instead, armed soldiers with riot shields were on patrol.

In Mombasa, food shortages caused price increases, with the cost of a loaf of bread more than doubling to $1, said Michael Musembi, who sells wood carvings.

South African Nobel Peace laureate Desmond Tutu held talks with Mr. Kibaki yesterday and with Mr. Odinga on Thursday, and said both men “indicated they are open to the possibilities of negotiations.”

The leading U.S. diplomat for Africa, Jendayi Frazer, was traveling to Kenya for meetings today, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said. Miss Frazer would not serve as a mediator but would try to encourage the leaders to talk, he said.

Germany’s development minister, Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul, suggested European Union aid to Kenya could be frozen if Kenyan officials spurn international offers of mediation.

On Thursday, Mr. Kibaki said he was “ready to have dialogue with concerned parties once the nation is calm.”

Attorney General Amos Wako called Thursday for an independent investigation of the vote counting. But a spokesman for Mr. Odinga, Salim Lone, rejected the suggestion, saying his party had “no faith in any government institution.”

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