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Violence halts election protest
Kenya official says probe into disputed vote should occur

NAIROBI, Kenya - Police used tear gas, water cannons and batons Thursday to block thousands of people from protesting Kenya's disputed election amid a political deadlock between the president and his chief rival.

Kenya's attorney general said there should be an independent probe of the election results because of the perception the Dec. 27 vote was rigged. The U.S. and Europe pushed for reconciliation, saying a "made-in-Kenya solution" was needed to end violence that has killed about 300 people since President Mwai Kibaki was declared the winner.

As the diplomats discussed unity, Kenya's slums burned.

"War is happening here," said 45-year-old Edwin Mukathia, who was among thousands of people who poured out of Nairobi's slums to heed opposition candidate Raila Odinga's call for a million-man march in the city's Uhuru Park.

But Mukathia and the others were kept at bay by riot police, who choked off the roads and fired live bullets over their heads. The opposition canceled the march but said they would hold it today, setting the stage for another day of upheaval stretching from the capital to the coast to the western highlands.

The conflict has brought condemnation from diplomats across the globe as one of Africa's top tourist draws and most stable democracies descends into chaos.

Smoke from burning tires and debris rose from barricaded streets, around Nairobi's huge slums, where hundreds of thousands of Odinga's supporters live, as well as on main roads leading into suburbs that are home to upper class Kenyans and expatriates.

The election dispute has degenerated into violence pitting Kibaki's influential Kikuyus against Odinga's Luos and other tribes.

Kenya's electoral commission said Kibaki had won the Dec. 27 election, but Odinga alleged the vote was rigged. Foreign observers have questioned the vote count, as has the chief of Kenya's electoral commission.

Attorney General Amos Wako called for an independent probe.

"Because of the perception that the presidential results were rigged, it is necessary ... that a proper tally of the valid certificates returned and confirmed should be undertaken immediately" by an independent body, he said.

Wako did not elaborate or say whether an independent body would include foreign observers, and it was unclear whether he had Kibaki's backing or had made the statement independently.