Kenya's parliament set to reopen after allegedly flawed polls
( dpa ) - Riot police carrying shields and batons were deployed across the Kenyan capital Nairobi Tuesday ahead of the reopening of parliament after allegedly rigged presidential polls plunged the country into chaos and violence.
Most roads leading into downtown and around parliament were to be sealed, police said, as tensions remain high over a political crisis that has seen defeated presidential candidate Raila Odinga claim he was legitimately elected and charging President Mwai Kibaki stole the win.
The opening of the house comes as former United Nations secretary general Kofi Annan is set to arrive to kick off a new round of mediation between the two sides, but the last attempt by the head of the African Union, John Kufuor, failed to bring a resolution.
Meanwhile, the country is on edge as three days of opposition rallies in some 25 cities are set to begin Wednesday, in what may further stoke tensions and increase violence nationwide.
The Kenyan Red Cross has said 575 people have been killed since clashes erupted after last month's elections, but some reports put the number closer to 700.
Kenya's newspapers have urged Odinga's Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) to use its great numbers in the house - it has 99 seats compared to 43 in Kibaki's Party of National Unity - to push legislation and policies its way.
But Odinga has said ODM's attendance Tuesday was not an endorsement of Kibaki's win and the group would continue to seek a political solution to its grievances.
"We will not rest until this is sorted out. It's not going to be business as usual as Kibaki expects," said William Ruto, an ODM member.
While the European Union and other observers said the presidential vote was flawed, the parliamentary polls, held on the same day, were deemed largely credible and showed Kibaki's government a vote of no confidence with more than half his cabinet ousted.
The lawmakers are set to elect a speaker Tuesday, and members of parliament are set to be sworn in.