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Kenyan President to Meet with Opposition Leader After Week of Violence

BY Admin  January 7, 2008 at 3:30 PM EST

Police dispersing protest in Kenya

The signs in softening on both sides came after three days of meetings with the chief U.S. envoy for Africa, who said Monday the vote count in Kenya’s presidential election was rigged, but both parties could have been involved.

“Yes, there was rigging,” 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.”

Soon after the Dec. 27 election, Kenya’s election commission announced that Kibaki had been narrowly re-elected. His rival, Orange Democratic Movement leader Odinga, said Kibaki stole the election and demanded he step down. The chairman of the election commission has said he is not sure Kibaki won the vote.

Kibaki’s swift swearing in on the following Sunday unleashed a week of bloody protests and ethnic killings that left 486 people dead and forced 255,000 to leave their homes, according to the Kenyan government’s committee of humanitarian services, the AP reported.

Violence eased over the weekend, but ethnic attacks continued, pitting Odinga’s Luo and other tribes against Kibaki’s Kikuyu people, the largest among Kenya’s 42 tribes.

On Monday, Odinga called off protests set for Tuesday after meeting with Frazer and after the Kenyan government said the demonstrations were illegal and could spark more violence.

Kibaki then invited Odinga to the State House for a meeting Friday to discuss how to end the political and ethnic fighting.

Odinga said mediation could succeed within a week “if there is cooperation,” quoted Reuters news service.