Kenyan minister rejects UN offer

A leading Kenyan government minister rejected the mediation of Kofi Annan yesterday, a day before the former UN secretary-general was expected in Nairobi to try to resolve the East African nation's bloody dispute over presidential elections.

Public schools reopened following their closure last week and children trooped through traffic jams back to class.

It was a sign that life was returning to normal following the deep political and ethnic tensions unleashed by the 27 December election, which foreign observers say had a deeply flawed vote tally. Even the electoral commission chairman has said he is not sure who won.

More than 600 people have died in the ensuing violence.

"We won the elections ... We do not see the point for anyone coming to mediate power-sharing," said John Michuki, a member of President Mwai Kibaki's inner circle.

"We have not invited Kofi Annan or any other eminent personality to come and mediate," the minister of roads and public works told reporters.

It was unclear if Michuki spoke for Kibaki, who has said he does not want a mediator but direct talks with his rival, opposition leader Raila Odinga.

Since mediation by the United States and African Union failed last week, Odinga has called for three days of protests across the country to start on Wednesday, in defiance of a new government ban on demonstrations.

Police, already accused of killing dozens of protesters by human rights workers, say they will not allow the rallies. The stage appears set for more violent clashes.

In the troubled western town of Kisumu, where dozens of protesters were killed in the days after election results were announced, shopkeepers were welding metal shutters over shop fronts Monday to prevent a repeat of the looting that characterized the previous violence.

Lines around the block formed at some supermarkets and banks as people stocked up against protests they fear could again paralyze the nation.

Annan appealed for calm before his departure Monday from Geneva, and alluded to the proposed protests. "Pending this (mediation), no party should create facts on the ground or engage in acts that complicate the search for a negotiated solution," he said. "The purpose of our mission is to help the Kenyan people find a peaceful and just solution to the current crisis."

The official death toll rose as more bodies were found. Rachel Arungah, head of a special government committee set up to coordinate aid, said at least 612 people have died.

Arungah said the number of people displaced had dropped from 255,000 to around 200,000 as people moved in with relatives or returned home.

In Nairobi, the dueling political parties braced for a showdown at Tuesday's opening of parliament, where Odinga's party has 99 seats to Kibaki's 43.

A fracas was expected as opposition spokesman Salim Lone said, "We are going to go to parliament and sit on the government side and that will make clear who won the election."

Both parties were courting legislators from minority parties, in hopes of drumming up the two-thirds majority needed to elect a speaker of the National Assembly.

"They are on a shopping expedition to buy as many MPs as they can, and Kenya's MPs are extremely buyable," Gladwell Wathoni Otieno, executive director of the Africa Center for Open Governance, said, referring to the country's pervasive corruption.

As the crisis dragged on, thousands of tourists canceled vacations, and the International Cricket Council moved Kenya's Intercontinental Cup match against Namibia from Nairobi to Sharjah, United Arab Emirates.

Since the conflict erupted, primary and secondary school grounds in rural areas have been used as sites for displaced people, while others were vandalized or burned down by rioting youth. On Monday, some remained closed, but figures on how many or what percentage of students showed up nationwide were unavailable.

Evelyn Imbwana, a mother of three forced from her home by the violence, said her children's school still was closed because it was attacked and looted last week by rampaging mobs.

"It's unfair that we suffer while politicians fight," she said at a sports ground where she has sought refuge.

Another school in Nairobi's Kibera slum was missing half its 2,600 students, headmistress Ruth Namulundu said. Many parents fearing a new eruption of violence requested their children be transferred to their families' native villages, Namulundu said.

In Rift Valley province, west of Nairobi, decomposing bodies lay in two school compounds near the town of Burnt Forest.

Suggested Topics
News
The surrealist comedian at the Q Awards in 2010
people
News
Russell Brand arriving for the book launch in East London
peopleRussell Brand cancels his book launch debate due to concerns about the make-up of the panel
Sport
Christiano Ronaldo enjoys his opening goal
champions leagueLiverpool 0 Real Madrid 3: Ronaldo and Benzema run Reds ragged to avenge thrashing from their last visit to Anfield
Arts and Entertainment
Awesome foursome: Sam Smith shows off his awards
music22-year-old confirms he is 2014’s breakout British music success
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Six of the 76 Goats' cheese samples contained a significant amount of sheep's cheese
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Contestants during this summer's Celebrity Big Brother grand finale
tvBroadcaster attempts to change its image following sale to American media group
Extras
indybest
News
Wilko Johnson is currently on his farewell tour
people
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Dales attempts to sell British Breeze in the luxury scent task
tvReview: 'Apprentice' candidate on the verge of tears as they were ejected from the boardroom
News
Call me Superman: one of many unusual names chosen by Chinese students
newsChinese state TV offers advice for citizens picking a Western moniker
Voices
New look: Zellweger at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
voicesRenée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity, says Amanda Hess
Arts and Entertainment
Julianne Moore and Ellen Page are starring together in civil rights drama Freeheld
film
Voices
'Irritatingly Disneyfied': fashion vlogger Zoella
voicesVicky Chandler: Zoella shows us that feminism can come in all forms
Life and Style
health
Arts and Entertainment
Pink Floyd on stage at Live 8 in 2005. From left to right: David Gilmour, Roger Waters, Nick Mason and Rick Wright
music New album The Endless River set to overtake boyband for most pre-ordered of all-time
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Solutions Architect - Permanent - London - £70k DOE

£60000 - £70000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

General Cover Teacher

£110 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Reading: Great opportunities for Cover...

Maths Teacher

£110 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Reading: QTS Maths Teachers needed for...

Maths Teacher

£110 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Reading: QTS Maths Teachers needed for...

Day In a Page

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right