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Kenya opposition party turns to economic boycott over disputed election

[JURIST] Kenya's main opposition party, the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) [party website] said Friday that it would use economic boycotts and strikes to continue protests over the disputed re-election [JURIST report] of Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki [official profile] after ODM supporters clashed with police [JURIST report] during three days of demonstrations staged across the country this week. Opposition spokesman Salime Lone said Friday that planned protests [JURIST report], which ODM called for last week after the African Union failed to facilitate talks between Kibaki and opposition candidate Raila Odinga [campaign profile], would continue, but also announced an economic boycott to focus on companies that support Kibaki. At least 11 protesters have died since the demonstrations began Wednesday, and over 700 people have died since protests began after the election last month. Thirteen nations, including several European Union members and the United States, have threatened to cut off aid to Kenya's government until the crisis is resolved and democracy is restored. Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] has urged the government to ban police from using excessive and lethal force against protesters [press release] and called for peaceful demonstrations.

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. Earlier this month, Kenyan Attorney General Amos Wako [official profile] called for an independent investigation [JURIST report] into the vote, citing accusations of election fraud. More than two dozen Kenyan civil society groups on Friday collectively claimed widespread election irregularities [Deutsche Welle report] and called for a recount of votes. AP has more.

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