Kenya Government Denounces 'Genocide'
Thursday, January 3, 2008; 12:00 AM
NAIROBI, Jan 2 (Reuters) - President Mwai Kibaki's government accused rival Raila Odinga's party of unleashing "genocide" in Kenya on Wednesday as the death toll from tribal violence over a disputed election passed 300.
"It is becoming clear that these well-organised acts of genocide and ethnic-cleansing were well-planned, financed and rehearsed by Orange Democratic Movement leaders prior to the general elections," the statement read by Lands Minister Kivutha Kibwana on behalf of his colleagues said.
Odinga's supporters, drawn mainly from his Luo tribe, have made similar charges against Kibaki, whose Kikuyu have dominated political and business life in East Africa's biggest economy.
Western powers have called for calm and Britain has urged the African Union and Commonwealth to try to reconcile Kibaki and Odinga whose parties accuse the other of vote-rigging during the Dec. 27 election.
"There are independent reports of serious irregularities in the counting process," said British Foreign Minister David Miliband and U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in a joint statement. They called for an end to violence and "an intensive political and legal process" to end the crisis.
As young men armed with machetes manned roadblocks in rural areas, a trickle of office workers in the capital Nairobi made it through police cordons to begin the new working year.
"They call this democracy," said a central bank worker, delayed by police as he tried to get to work.
A local and an international rights group accused Kenyan security forces of having "bloodily repressed" protests by opposition supporters.
"As a reaction, some protesters are responsible for the assassination of Kikuyus," added the Kenya Human Rights Commission and the International Federation for Human Rights.
And in an apparent chain reaction, there were growing examples of Wednesday of revenge killings by Kikuyu militants, including the notorious Mungiki gang, on members of pro-opposition tribes.
The turmoil caused confusion in local markets.
Currency trading was delayed then muted, while stocks went lower, and tea and coffee auctions were postponed.