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US envoy says Kenyan election was rigged

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080107/ap_on_re_af/kenya_elections US envoy says Kenyan election was rigged By MICHELLE FAUL, Associated Press Writer 26 minutes
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 7, 2008
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      http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080107/ap_on_re_af/kenya_elections

      US envoy says Kenyan election was rigged
      By MICHELLE FAUL, Associated Press Writer
      26 minutes ago

      NAIROBI, Kenya - The vote count from Kenya's election
      was rigged, but both parties could have been involved,
      the chief U.S. envoy for Africa said Monday, declining
      to blame either President Mwai Kibaki or the
      opposition leader who ran against him.

      The opposition leader, Raila Odinga, canceled
      nationwide protests on Monday, saying he wanted to
      avoid new violence and give mediation a chance to
      resolve the election standoff that has killed nearly
      500 people in political and ethnic bloodletting.

      "Yes, there was rigging," the U.S. envoy, Jendayi
      Frazer, told The Associated Press. "I mean there were
      problems with the vote counting process ... both the
      parties could have rigged."

      She said both rival parties could have been involved
      and that she did not want to blame either Kibaki or
      Odinga.

      Frazer, who has spent three days negotiating with
      Kibaki and Odinga, said at an earlier news conference
      that Kenyans "have been cheated by their political
      leadership and their institutions." In particular,
      Frazer said, the electoral commission was flawed and
      needed reform.

      The commission chairman has admitted that he is not
      sure Kibaki won the vote.

      THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for
      further information. AP's earlier story is below.

      NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Kenya's opposition leader on
      Monday canceled nationwide protests, saying he wanted
      to avoid new violence and give mediation a chance to
      resolve the election dispute that has killed nearly
      500 people in political and ethnic bloodletting.

      The chief U.S. envoy for Africa, who has spent three
      days negotiating with President Mwai Kibaki and the
      opposition, said Kenyans "have been cheated by their
      political leadership and their institutions." In
      particular, Jendayi Frazer said, the electoral
      commission was flawed and needed reform.

      The commission chairman has admitted that he is not
      sure Kibaki won the vote.

      Frazer said that the turmoil had not shaken U.S.
      confidence in Kenya as a regional hub. She said the
      United States favored whatever solution Kibaki and the
      opposition leader, Raila Odinga, come up with to
      resolve the deadlock and halt violence.

      Odinga called off protests planned for Tuesday after
      meeting with Frazer. Kibaki's government, accused by
      Odinga of stealing the Dec. 27 election, had said the
      proposed Tuesday demonstrations were illegal and could
      provoke violence.

      Reports of ethnic killings continued to stream in from
      the countryside, with an official in neighboring
      Uganda confirming 30 Kenyan refugees were thrown into
      the border river by attackers, and were presumed
      drowned.

      Two Ugandan truck drivers carrying the group said they
      were stopped Saturday at a roadblock mounted by
      militiamen who identified the refugees as members of
      Kibaki's Kikuyu tribe and threw them into the deep,
      swift-flowing Kipkaren River, said Himbaza Hashaka, a
      Ugandan border official.

      The drivers said none survived, Hashaka said.

      A statement Monday from the Ministry of Special
      Programs put the death toll at 486 with some 255,000
      people displaced from their homes. The toll, which did
      not include the drownings, was compiled by a committee
      of humanitarian services set up by the government
      which toured areas most affected by riots and
      protests.

      Odinga told Sky News television that Kibaki's
      "rigging" himself back into power caused the violence
      and therefore "Mr. Mwai Kibaki must bear
      responsibility ... for the deaths we are seeing in our
      country today."

      But a government spokesman said officials were
      investigating "premeditated murder" of people warned
      beforehand that they would pay if they voted for
      Kibaki.

      Such targeting of certain communities "can ultimately
      result in serious crimes under international law such
      as crimes against humanity and genocide," Mutua said.

      He did not say who could be charged.

      Attempts to hold opposition rallies last week were
      blocked by police who fired tear gas, water cannons
      and live bullets over people's heads. Human rights
      groups accused police of excessive force and
      unjustified killings in the crisis, but police
      Commissioner Hussein Ali insisted Sunday that "we have
      not shot anyone."

      For Frazer, Monday was the last day of a three-day
      mission in which she has won an offer from Kibaki to
      form a coalition government and a concession from
      Odinga that he would negotiate without insisting that
      Kibaki first resign.

      The United States, Britain and the European Union have
      urged Kibaki and Odinga to negotiate. The East African
      nation is considered an ally in the fight against
      terrorism.

      Meanwhile, thousands of tourists have canceled
      vacations at the beginning of the high season.

      "Hotels have been projecting an occupancy of 80-90
      percent of capacity. But today, as we speak, that has
      dropped down to less than 40 percent. That's a huge
      loss for the economy," Mohammed Hersi, general manager
      of Whitesands Hotel in the coastal city of Mombasa,
      told AP Television News.

      Schools were to reopen after the holidays on Monday,
      but the government postponed that for a week. Many are
      being used by refugees.

      The level of violence eased over the weekend, though
      ethnic attacks continued, pitting Odinga's Luo and
      other tribes against Kibaki's Kikuyu people, the
      largest among Kenya's 42 tribes.

      Nearly 1,000 Luos were chased Sunday from their homes
      in one small town, Limuru, 30 miles west of Nairobi,
      the capital. Some with furniture and bundles of
      clothing, others with nothing, they huddled around the
      compound of the local police station.

      George Otieno, 30, said about 100 men armed with
      machetes, hammers and sticks attacked his home and
      smashed his head with a hammer.

      "They said, 'You have to go back to your place,'"
      meaning the Luo's native lands in western Kenya, said
      Otieno, whose head was bandaged and shirt marked with
      dried blood.

      About a mile away, more than 500 Kikuyu refugees were
      at a Red Cross compound, forced from their homes in
      the remote Western Province that is a Luo stronghold.
      Thousands of Kikuyus are fleeing western Kenya under
      armed police escort.

      Francis Waweru said he had arrived three days ago with
      his wife and four children, fleeing a mob of hundreds
      who torched his shop and home in Timboroa. He showed a
      leg wound where he said he was shot with a bow and
      arrow.

      "They said, 'No Raila, no peace,'" Waweru said.

      ___

      Associated Press writers Elizabeth A. Kennedy,
      Katharine Houreld, Tom Odula and Malkhadir M. Muhumed
      in Nairobi, Todd Pitman in Eldoret and Tom Maliti in
      Mombasa contributed to this report.
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