( dpa )- The European Union's aid chief on Saturday called on Kenya's opposition to halt protests against disputed election results that have been met by harsh police response across the country and have left dozens killed.
Louis Michel, who met with President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga on a one-day visit to the country, said he was "less pessimistic" that the warring sides would agree to meet and find a solution to the crisis that has rocked the East African nation.
Michel criticized "all protests that may exacerbate tensions, passions, frustrations and discontent at this moment when we are creating the conditions for negotiations to resolve the problem."
He called for a "semantic and rhetorical ceasefire" between the two camps, saying he was confident Kibaki would investigate excessive use of force by police and Odinga would halt the protests.
On Saturday, the opposition Orange Democratic Movement said it would call its supporters to rise up yet again on Thursday, after having said earlier it would switch its pressure tactics to economic boycotts.
The EU has threatened to block budgetary aid to Kenya, but as the country's annual budget is made up of less than five per cent of foreign aid, the move would be largely symbolic.
Michel said the EU was set to release 8 million dollars in humanitarian aid to help the 250,000 people displaced by the conflict.
Further mediation is set to start Tuesday, with former UN secretary general Kofi Annan set to arrive in the country to bring both sides to the table.
Michel said Kibaki and Odinga were both ready to find a political solution to the conflict, which has inflamed ethnic tensions and led to the deaths of more than 600 people.
"There is a just and acute recognition that they must negotiate and find a solution," he said.
Odinga has accused Kibaki of manipulating the hotly-contested December 27 elections and has called for a recount and for the president to step down.
Local and international election observers have said the vote was flawed and it was impossible to tell who won, with rigging on both sides.