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Kenya's Opposition to Hold More Rallies Despite Government Ban

In Kenya, opposition leader Raila Odinga has rejected President Mwai Kibaki's offer to form a unity government, and demanded that the president resign. Mr. Kibaki made the power-sharing deal on Saturday following talks with U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer and South Africa's Nobel laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Meanwhile, Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), the party that claimed it won the December 27th presidential election, is calling for more mass rallies Tuesday despite a government ban on such rallies.

Peter Anyang Nyong’o is ODM Secretary-general. He told VOA the Kibaki government has no right to stop Kenyans from expressing their constitutional rights.

“We shall hold another protest on the eighth of January. We’ve asked our people throughout the country to have peaceful and passive resistance against this repression. Our people have the right under the UN Charter to assemble, to speak, and to resist oppression and to champion democracy. We shall continue doing so until we get rid of the dictator, Mwai Kibaki,” he said.

The Kenyan government has banned all protests about the December 27th election results, and observers fear Tuesday rally may lead to more bloodshed. But Nyong’o said what he called the civilian coup must be resisted at all costs.

“A government that fears its own people must be a government that is doing something wrong. As far as we are concerned, we shall continue protesting injustice in Kenya, we shall continue to protest against the civilian coup against Mwai Kibaki and his gang of thieves. And if the government comes out with its military might and its police might against its own people, it would be judged by the international community as a truly dictatorial government. This civilian coup must be resisted at all costs,” Nyong’l said.

He rejected any suggestion that holding any new rallies in defiance of a government ban may result in the lost of more lives. Nyong’o said the Kibaki government is responsible for the 350 or more people who have reportedly died so far from the post-election violence.

“A government that steals votes from the people cannot be expected to tell the truth. I have just come from the city of Kisumu together with Madam Idah Odinga, and we found 61 bodies at the morgue who died as a result of gunshot wounds from the police in Kisumu,” he said.

Nyong’o blamed the Kisumu police force, the paramilitary police, the minister of internal security, and the commander of the army for what he called killing the people. He said they should all be taken to The Hague to answer for crimes against humanity.

He reiterated that the ODM would not join a unity government with President Kibaki.

“We totally reject the notion of a government of national unity because we cannot unite with a thief to rule this country. We will only be in a government that is truly elected democratically by the people of Kenya as they have elected their own democratic movement and Raila Odina as the president of this country,” he said.

Nyong’o said the ODM wants a new election under international supervision because it cannot trust the Kibaki government to supervise another election.

“We are calling for a new election because we know that the election that was done has been messed up by the Election Commission of Kenya, and we know that Kibaki as we sit here would not in any way respect the real results of the elections that have been held because by cooking the books and stealing the rights of the Kenyan people, he has usurped power and now sits there after a civilian coup d’etat,” Nyong’o said.