Kenyan remembrance service ends in violence

A remembrance service for the hundreds of Kenyans who have died in post-election violence ended in chaos as fighting broke out between mourners and police today.

Police responded to volleys of stones and bottles by firing tear gas.

The skirmishes came as former UN chief Kofi Annan was due to hold talks in an attempt to mediate between President Mwai Kibaki and opposition candidate Raila Odinga.

Mr Odinga claims the president rigged voting to win re-election last month.

Foreign observers say the vote tally was deeply flawed, and the government says 685 people have been killed since in riots and ethnic fighting.

Beatrice Achieng ,35, was at a mortuary today that was the starting point of the opposition’s memorial procession, which drew about 800 people.

She was collecting the body of her 13-year-old daughter, who was shot outside their home in a Nairobi slum.

“I think the protests should stop. I don’t want to hear about Raila. I don’t want to hear about Kibaki. My daughter is gone and we need peace,” she said.

“I am feeling very bitter and angry at the police. I haven’t eaten since the day my daughter died. She was my first born and I’ve even thought of hanging myself.”

Mr Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement has called for another “peaceful protest” tomorrow, in defiance of a ban and despite the deaths of at least 24 people in three days of protests last week, most blamed on police.

But his spokesman said today that the party would be willing to reconsider.

“If Mr. Kofi Annan asks ODM to cancel the rally, we will of course consider it very seriously,” he said.

The election returned Mr Kibaki to power for a second five-year term, with official results putting Mr Odinga second in the closest presidential race in Kenya’s history. Although the electoral chief pronounced Mr Kibaki the victor, he later said he had been pressured to do so and did not know who won.

Ensuing violence has pitted protesters against police, but also seen clashes between members of Mr Kibaki’s Kikuyu ethnic group and other tribes.

Police in Kenya’s western Rift Valley Province said a mob burned a man to death in his car yesterday because he could not speak his attackers’ language.

The killing in Molo town came just after the man dropped his children at school.

Both sides in the dispute have traded accusations of who is behind the violence, with both the government and the opposition saying they will take the other to the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands.


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