Kenya's Opposition Rejects Talks with Kibaki

Kenya's opposition leader on Tuesday rejected an invitation to meet with President Mwai Kibaki, saying it would undermine international attempts to end the election-related violence that has left more than 500 people dead.

Kibaki had invited Raila Odinga for talks on Friday, but Odinga termed the overture "public relations gimmickry." Odinga said he will only attend negotiations mediated by African Union Chairman John Kufuor. Kufuor is scheduled to arrive in Nairobi later on Tuesday, and officials said he would remain there for a little more than 24 hours.

Kibaki and Odinga have not met since Kibaki's surprise re-election erupted into ethnic violence last month. Odinga and his Luo tribe have charged that Kibaki, who is from the Kikuyu tribe, stole the election and should step down.

Catholic Bishop Cornelius Korir said attacks against the Kikuyu tribe appeared to have been planned and organized. Korir is from Eldoret, where dozens died when a mob torched a church filled with refugees. Eldoret and surrounding areas have seen an exodus of Kikuyus, who are fleeing the violence.

Attacks Appear Organized

"The way the attacks were managed seems to me very organized," Korir said.

U.S. envoy Jendayi Frazer toured the region Tuesday. She has said that the vote count at the heart of the dispute was rigged — but that both sides could have been involved. The Dec. 27 election returned Kibaki to power for another five-year term. Odinga came in a close second.

"Yes, there was rigging," the U.S. envoy, Jendayi Frazer, told The Associated Press in an interview Monday in Nairobi, where she had met with Kibaki and Odinga over the past three days. "I mean there were problems with the vote counting process."

She said she did not want to blame either Kibaki or Odinga.

Earlier Tuesday, Odinga's spokesman said Barack Obama phoned the opposition leader to express concerns about the ethnic violence, intensifying the diplomatic pressure from the United States.

The U.S. Democratic presidential candidate, whose father was Kenyan, called to express "grave concern" over the election outcome, spokesman Salim Lone said. Obama said he also planned to call Kibaki, according to Lone.

From NPR and The Associated Press

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