Opposition leader urges workers to skip work today
NAIROBI, Kenya (AP):
Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga urged his supporters to skip work on Monday to protest what he charged were rigged elections that gave victory to President Uhuru Kenyatta. The government denounced violent demonstrations as unlawful and urged Kenyans to return to their jobs.
Odinga spoke yesterday to a cheering crowd in Nairobi's Kibera slum, an opposition stronghold and a frequent scene of clashes between stone-throwing protesters and police firing live ammunition and tear gas since the August 8 election in which President Uhuru Kenyatta was declared the winner. Odinga's defiance fueled continuing uncertainty in Kenya, an East African economic hub whose reputation for stability has been shaken by election violence and court challenges in the past.
"There is no work until Tuesday, when we will announce the next step," said Odinga, who previously claimed that last week's vote was rigged and who has unsuccessfully run for president on three previous occasions. Kenya's election commission said its process was fair, and international observers praised its handling of the election in this country of 45 million people.
Late Sunday, machete-wielding members of two rival ethnic groups - Luos and Kikuyus - confronted each other in Mathare, another Nairobi slum, witnesses said. An Associated Press journalist in the area said he saw a Luo who had a deep machete cut in his head after he was attacked by Kikuyus.
While most of Kenya has been calm since the election, the possibility of an outbreak of ethnic violence has been a concern because many Kenyans vote along ethnic lines. Kenyatta is a Kikuyu; Odinga is a Luo.
More than 1,000 people died in ethnic-fueled violence following Kenya's 2007 election. Odinga was the losing candidate in that vote, but was later made prime minister in a power-sharing agreement designed to defuse tension.