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Odinga rejects meeting with Kibaki

ELDORET, Kenya (AP) — Kenya’s opposition leader rejected talks with the president on Tuesday, describing an invitation to meet as public relations gimmickry.

Raila Odinga said that the planned meeting with President Mwai Kibaki would undermine attempts to end the ethnically-charged election standoff that has killed more than 500 people.

On Monday, Kibaki invited Odinga to his official residence for a meeting this Friday. Previously, Odinga had said he would go to the meeting only if it were part of international mediation efforts.

He said Tuesday that Kibaki was trying to deflect attention from and undermine from internationally-brokered talks.

Ghanaian President John Kufuor, the head of the African Union, arrived in Nairobi on Tuesday to act as a mediator.

Kibaki also named his Cabinet on Tuesday, undeterred by accusations that he stole the vote.

Intensifying the diplomatic pressure from the United States, Democrat candidate Barack Obama phoned Odinga to express grave concern over the election outcome, Odinga’s spokesman Salim Lone said.

Lone said Obama, whose father was Kenyan, also said he planned to call Kibaki.

Obama’s spokesman, Robert Gibbs, said the senator spoke to Odinga on Monday for about five minutes before going into a rally in New Hampshire.

Meanwhile, the Catholic bishop of the town where dozens died when a mob torched a refugee-filled church said Tuesday that the attacks against members of Kibaki’s Kikuyu tribe appeared planned and organized.

Bishop Cornelius Korir spoke in western Eldoret, scene of the fiery massacre of Kikuyu. Eldoret and surrounding areas have seen an exodus of Kikuyus since.

The way the attacks were managed seems to me very organized, Korir said as the U.S. envoy, Jendayi Frazer, toured the region Tuesday. No, it did not seem spontaneous to me. It seems it was well planned.

Kibaki’s government also has charged the attacks were orchestrated, and both sides have traded accusations that the violence amounted to genocide or ethnic cleansing.

Frazer rejected that allegation on Monday.

We would not agree that what has happened — even the worst of what has happened — has been a genocide, she said.

Frazer, the top American envoy to Africa, said the vote count at the heart of the dispute was tampered with and both sides could have been involved.

Yes, there was rigging, Frazer said on Monday.

I mean there were problems with the vote counting process. Both the parties could have rigged.

She said she did not want to blame either Kibaki or Odinga.

Kenya’s electoral commission chairman Samuel Kivuiti has himself said he is not sure Kibaki won, though the chairman officially declared Kibaki the winner in the closest presidential election in Kenya’s history.

The violence has marked some of the darkest times since Kenya’s independence from Britain in 1963, with much of the fighting degenerating into riots pitting other tribes against Kibaki’s Kikuyu, long dominant in politics and the economy.

An official in neighboring Uganda said 30 fleeing Kenyans were thrown into the border river by Kenyan attackers, and were presumed drowned.

Two Ugandan truck drivers carrying the group said they were stopped Saturday at a roadblock mounted by vigilantes who identified the refugees as Kikuyus and threw them into the deep, swift-flowing Kipkaren River, said Himbaza Hashaka, a Ugandan border official. The drivers said none survived, Hashaka said.
found here.

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January 9, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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