Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki, who was declared the winner of last week's disputed elections, is accusing opposition leaders of fomenting post-election violence that has claimed more than 300 lives. Kenya's opposition is vowing to defy police for a second day Friday and try to hold a rally to protest disputed elections. Nick Wadhams reports from VOA's Nairobi bureau, the president appealed for calm.
Mr. Kibaki appeared before reporters at his State House residence, as violence continued across Kenya. Both government and opposition leaders are struggling to come to grips with the fallout from an election that the European Union and several others have said was seriously flawed.
South African Archbishop and Nobel laureate Desmond Tutu arrived in Kenya Thursday to try to mediate between supporters of Mr. Kibaki and supporters of opposition leader Raila Odinga, but neither side appeared willing to compromise.
The United States has also appealed for calm and announced it is sending an envoy to the country to discuss the crisis.
Speaking to reporters, Mr. Kibaki accused the opposition of having instigated the violence. He said that anyone who breaks the law will be punished, and called on Kenyans to remain calm.
"In particular, I am appealing to all young people to reject any attempts to use them to harm their fellow Kenyans," he said. "This is your country, too, and to harm your fellow citizens and willfully destroy property is to destroy your own future."
Violence continued through the day, and some areas of the Nairobi slums where the worst of the violence has occurred are essentially lawless, prowled by gangs of young men terrorizing people.
Odinga insists he will only negotiate with Mr. Kibaki after he steps down as president.
Odinga visited a city mortuary on Thursday afternoon where he was shown the bodies of several dozen people said to have been killed in the violence.
Some bodies were laid out on slabs of stone. Others had been stacked in racks in the back of the facility. Several bore what appeared to have been wounds from machetes.
Afterward, Odinga remained defiant. He rejected an offer to conduct a re-count of the vote, saying that would be rigged just as he believes the original vote was. He insisted that he is the rightful leader of Kenya and that his hands are tied.
"I cannot do anything, because I have been denied the opportunity to do so by one Mwai Kibaki, who is right now still sitting in State House," he said. "This is something that this country does not deserve. This country wants change, and it voted for change. Instead, in order to perpetuate themselves, they are doing this kind of thing to the people of Kenya."
Meanwhile, in the slums, Kenya's poorest people have begun to say that they have tired of the political wrangling and want peace more than anything else. Many say that both Odinga and Mr. Kibaki will only lose popularity if they continue their confrontation.