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Kenya opposition vows boycott

world Updated: Jan 18, 2008 22:45 IST

Kenya's opposition said on Friday it would launch an economic boycott of companies linked to the government after staging a final day of protests over the disputed re-election of President Mwai Kibak.

Riot police and paramilitary units kept a tight grip on Nairobi and opposition strong holds in western Kenya as they prepared to face off with protesters for the third day running.

According to police, 16 people have been killed since the nationwide rallies kicked off on Wednesday, sparking international fears the east African nation -- once a beacon of regional stability -- would further sink into chaos.

Opposition leader Raila Odinga's Orange Democratic Movement said it was ending the protests because civilians were paying too heavy a price.

"Today is the last day of demonstrations. We have seen a lot of suffering caused by reckless police action against peaceful protestor," ODM spokesman Salim Lone told AFP.

Kenyan police opened fire on crowds, used tear gas and beat protestors, drawing accusations from the opposition and rights group of random and excessive force.

Odinga says he was robbed of the presidency in December polls, accusing Kibak of rigging his re-election. His party described the 76-year-old president as" an eminent thief".

More than 700 people have been killed in riots, police raids and ethnically driven clashes since Kibaki was declared the winner of the election on December 30.

Today, no incidents were reported in Nairobi by noon (1430 IST) but some 200 demonstrators had gathered in Kisumu, a western opposition bastion and the country's third city, an AFP correspondent reported.