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Kenya's Opposition to Hold Banned Protest Rally

Kenya's opposition leaders have vowed to go ahead with a massive rally in downtown Nairobi to protest what they say was the fraudulent re-election of President Mwai Kibaki. The government has said the demonstration, set for Thursday, will not be allowed to proceed, and the standoff threatens to spark a new wave of violence. Nick Wadhams has the story for VOA from Nairobi.

The ethnic fighting that has wracked Kenya in recent days appeared to ease slightly on Wednesday, although clashes continued in some of Nairobi's slums. In areas that were calm, Kenyans emerged from their homes to shop ahead of tomorrow's demonstration.

Mr. Kibaki appears to be at a deadlock with his opposition rival, Raila Odinga of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM). On Wednesday, Mr. Odinga met with top aides and ODM lawmakers to plan strategy for the coming days.

After the meeting, ODM Secretary-General Anyang Nyong'o emerged with Mr. Odinga and told reporters that the opposition group's position has not changed: Mr. Kibaki must step down, and the rally would go ahead.

"The ODM reiterates our commitment to the nullification of the purported election of Kibaki as president, the restoration of peace by full recognition of the honorable Raila Amolo Odinga as the democratically elected president of the republic of Kenya and hence the return of democratic governance in our republic," he said.

Police officials now say at least 200 people have been killed in the violence that erupted after Odinga supporters began to protest what they said was evidence of vote rigging by Mr. Kibaki's team. The European Union's electoral mission here has said the polls did not meet international standards, and it has called for an investigation.

Many of the dead have been protesters killed by police firing into crowds. On Tuesday, some 30 people were killed when an angry mob torched a church in western Kenya where people were seeking refuge from the violence.

In Nairobi, some people in the slums say it is time for peace, and that poor Kenyans must stop fighting each other. ODM Chairman Nyong'o said that can only be achieved if Mr. Odinga is named president.

"Peace cannot be realized in Kenya without justice," he added. "The mass action is to let it be known that people want peaceful mass action to call for justice, which shall be a necessary condition for us to get on with our lives."

Some in the international community have suggested a government of national unity could offer a solution. Others argue that Mr. Odinga should take his claims to court.

Both Mr. Kibaki and Mr. Odinga have said they will not share power, and the courts are seen as largely corrupt and inefficient.