Kenya police clash with protesters over disputed election

[JURIST] Supporters of Kenya's main opposition party, the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) [party website], fought with police Wednesday during demonstrations staged across the country over the disputed re-election [JURIST report] of Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki [official profile]. At least two protesters were killed and another half dozen injured as police tried to disperse the demonstrations by firing tear gas and bullets into the crowds. On Friday, the ODM called for three days of protests [JURIST report] after the African Union failed to facilitate talks between Kibaki and opposition candidate Raila Odinga [campaign profile]. 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. On January 3, Kenyan Attorney General Amos Wako [official profile] called for an independent investigation [JURIST report] into the vote, citing accusations of election fraud. More than 600 people have already died in violent demonstrations since Kibaki's re-election and a quarter of a million people have been displaced. Reuters has more. AP has additional coverage.

 

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