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Ethnic violence flares over Kenya poll delay

Hundreds call for government to release results, claim authorities are rigging presidential election

Ethnic violence flares over Kenya poll delay

Protests and looting flared in Kenyan opposition strongholds yesterday as delays announcing a presidential election result prompted rigging claims in east Africa's economic power.
In western Kisumu city, in the Nyanza homeland of opposition hallenger Raila Odinga, hundreds of angry youths took to the streets, lighting fires, ransacking shops and blocking roads.
Local residents said one person died.
And in Nairobi's biggest slum Kibera, also a hotbed of Odinga support, police deployed as rival ethnic gangs faced off.
"We are demonstrating against the delay in announcing the results. We are sensing a plan by the government to rig the elections. We will not accept this," taxi cyclist Eric Ochieng, 18, told Reuters as smoke rose over Kisumu.
Witnesses said looters in Kisumu were targeting shops belonging to members of President Mwai Kibaki's Kikuyu tribe. Nyanza is home to the Luo tribe of Odinga.
In Nairobi's vast Kibera slum, Reuters witnesses said shooting broke out in the morning. A small group of armed police stood between two gangs - one Luo, the other Kikuyu - who were brandishing machetes, catapults and clubs.
Odinga, the wealthy heir of a nationalist hero, appeared to have built up acommanding lead over Kibaki following an election on Thursday that was largely peaceful.
But tensions rose yesterday as results trickling in showed Kibaki narrowing the gap. Opposition activists shouted down election officials at several news conferences, saying the hold-up was part of a government plot to steal victory for Kibaki.
By 9 a.m. (Kenya time), the Electoral Commission of Kenya had released results from 116 of the 210 constituencies, with Odinga leading by 2,620,547 votes to Kibaki's 2,362,696.
Both Kibaki's Party of National Unity and Odinga's Orange Democratic Movement demanded the authorities explain the delay. "I would ask the president himself to step in now and calm the temperature of the country," ODM official Joseph Nyaga said after another ill-tempered ECK results briefing.
"This is not Nigeria. My request is that they release these results. Don't hold them back. You raise suspicions to a level that they may not contain."
The latest results did not include many constituencies in the Central and Eastern provinces, where Kibaki is expected to dominate in voting that will largely follow tribal lines.


Updated : 2021-01-20 13:13 GMT+08:00