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Delays in poll results in Kenya ignites violence

Thousands of Kenyans burn down homes and clash using sticks and machetes over delays in announcing the country's next president.

world Updated: Dec 30, 2007 08:31 IST

Thousands of Kenyans enraged over delays in announcing the country's next president burned down homes and clashed using sticks and machetes, tainting a vote that initially was seen as a beacon of hope for democracy in Africa.

Opposition leader Raila Odinga clung onto his razor thin lead by 38,000 votes, but the electoral commission suspended announcing results on Saturday night, promising to look into allegations of fraud.

"If they don't announce results in two hours we are going to burn this place down!" shouted 23-year-old John Odhiambo as youths armed with metal rods looted a flaming market behind him in Kenya's biggest slum.

Police said violence claimed at least three lives across Kenya on Saturday, as supporters of the rival candidates fought with police and each other. Thursday's vote pitted President Mwai Kibaki against flamboyant challenger Odinga in the country's most closely fought election since independence from Britain in 1963.

If Kibaki loses, he will be Kenya's first sitting president ousted at the ballot box.

Yesterday, both parties announced they had won the election but the electoral commission said counting was not finished. Despite pleas from both parties to announce results quickly, chairman Samuel Kivuitu said he would suspend announcing results until the morning to investigate any allegations of fraud.

Already frustrated by delays, slum dwellers quickly latched onto wild rumors of tit-for-tat ethnic killings and young men hacked apart wooden fence posts to use as weapons.