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Kenya opposition leader condemns police 'shoot to kill' order as illegal

[JURIST] Kenyan opposition candidate Raila Odinga [campaign profile] has condemned as illegal the latest "shoot to kill" order given to Kenyan police in response to continued violence across the country after last month's disputed presidential election [JURIST report], according to Wednesday media reports. Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in the country to help mediate [JURIST report] the conflict between supporters of Odinga and Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki [official profile], says he hopes the political issues can be resolved within four weeks and that the country can heal from this latest crisis within a year. Speaking Wednesday on the sidelines of a conference in Ethiopia, however, US Undersecretary of State Jendayi Frazer claimed that the violence had constituted "ethnic cleansing."

The controversial presidential vote has sparked simmering ethnic tensions in Kenya [JURIST news archive], where Kibaki has long been accused of using his position to favor members of the Kikuyu tribe. Fueling accusations of malfeasance, Kibaki won the December 27 election despite early opinion polls that placed rival candidate Odinga in the lead. Thousands of opposition supporters took to the streets following the election, which prompted the government to temporarily ban public rallies and institute a curfew in Nairobi, the capital city. In all, almost 1,000 people have been killed and 250,000 displaced since protests began. Thirteen nations, including several European Union members and the United States, have threatened to cut off aid [JURIST report] to Kenya's government until the crisis is resolved and democracy is restored. Odinga's opposition party, the Orange Democratic Movement [party website] earlier this week filed a formal complaint [JURIST report] with the International Criminal Court [official website], alleging that Kibaki's administration has committed crimes against humanity while using force against demonstrators. The Kenyan National Commission on Human Rights [official site] on Saturday launched an official investigation [KNCHR brief; Standard report] into the alleged human rights violations. AFP has more.

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