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Kenyan opposition refuses to budge

  • Story Highlights
  • Opposition members plan to sit on the government side of parliament
  • Odinga plans to call for strikes, boycotts and civil disobedience
  • Several hundred people have died in violence that has swept Kenya
  • Crisis erupted when Kibaki declared victory over Odinga
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From CNN Correspondent Zain Verjee
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NAIROBI, Kenya (CNN) -- Opposition leader Raila Odinga said Sunday his Orange Democratic Movement members plan to sit on the government side of parliament when it reconvenes Tuesday.

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Odinga has said that he is prepared to call for strikes, boycotts and civil disobedience.

"The standing orders are very clear," he said. "They say the majority party is the government party. We are the majority party, and therefore we are going to be sitting on the government side, because we expect the minority party to sit on the opposition benches."

Odinga vowed not to call off further planned protests, which have racked the nation since last month's disputed presidential election. He added that he is prepared to call for strikes, boycotts and civil disobedience as well in his continuing effort to pressure Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki, whom he accuses of trying to steal the election.

"Basically, we want to put pressure on this government to understand that the people of this country are angry at what they have done to the people," he said.

Several hundred people have died in the violence, which erupted when Kibaki declared victory over Odinga. It has taken on ethnic overtones, pitting supporters of Kibaki, a member of the Kikuyu tribe, against supporters of Odinga, a member of the Luo tribe.

International monitors, including a senior U.S. diplomat, have cited irregularities in the voting in Kenya, which has long been one of the most stable and economically developed nations in East Africa.

Odinga rejected the suggestion that his call for further demonstrations was akin to throwing fuel on the fire.

"It is not our people who will be violent," he said. "What has happened is the government is the one who is provoking the people. The police are shooting tear gas or shooting people with live bullets to kill."

Odinga said the police commissioner's ban of rallies is itself illegal, since the constitution guarantees freedom of assembly.

"These are very peaceful demonstrations in order to express our determination to ensure that the people are not cheated of their electoral victory," he said.

He said a new election could be held in short order and predicted he would be declared the victor by a wide margin: "You only need to come up with fresh ballot papers, ballot boxes, new returning officers, new electoral commission."

Odinga said that, despite all the violence, he would be prepared in a new government to work with, but not under, Kibaki.

Odinga called on the United States, which he described as a friend and ally of Kenya, to help by pressuring Kibaki to allow rallies slated for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday to be held without interference by police. And he called for Kibaki to negotiate on power-sharing and setting a date for new elections.

"Please leave a legacy of a gentleman who lost an election and agreed to quit gracefully," he urged the president.

Last week, a U.S. diplomat said that former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan will take over mediation efforts in the dispute.

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The news followed Kibaki's swearing-in of 17 cabinet members in Nairobi. The Orange Democratic Movement dislikes the move because the president is choosing a government before the current political crisis is settled.

Kibaki said he swore in the officials to keep the government running, but didn't fill all the Cabinet posts because of the political negotiations. Those sworn in are members of either Kibaki's group or another opposition party. None are affiliated with Odinga's party. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

All About Raila OdingaMwai KibakiKenyaODM-Kenya

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