Police disperse protesters in Kenya

Other News Materials 3 January 2008 21:20 (UTC +04:00)

(AP)- Riot police fired tear gas and water cannons Thursday to beat back crowds heading for a banned rally to protest Kenya's disputed election, and the president said he is willing to talk to the opposition once calm has been restored.

The attorney general called for an independent body to verify the vote tally.

Kenya's electoral commission said President Mwai Kibaki had won the Dec. 27 vote, but rival candidate Raila Odinga alleged the vote was rigged. The dispute has triggered ethnic violence across the country that killed 300 people and displaced 100,000 others.

As attempts at mediating the crisis gained momentum, Kibaki said he was willing to hold talks.

"I am ready to have dialogue with concerned parties once the nation is calm and the political temperatures are lowered enough for constructive and productive engagement," Kibaki said, hours after police halted the planned march by opposition protesters.

South African Nobel peace laureate Desmond Tutu flew to Nairobi and met Odinga . Tutu said afterward that Odinga was ready for "the possibility of mediation."

Tutu gave no details but said he hoped to meet Kibaki as well. Government spokesman Alfred Mutua said Kibaki had no plans yet for such a meeting.

A European Union official said Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana would discuss a proposal to mediate the crisis.