Kenya opposition files complaint with U.N.

NAIROBI, Kenya &

The former U.N. chief and other mediators trying to bring Kenya's warring politicians together found the opposition accusing the government of "crimes against humanity" today in a complaint it planned to file at the Hague.

The opposition and President Mwai Kibaki's administration have traded accusations in the violence stemming from the Dec. 27 election, with both sides accusing the other of "genocide." The death toll has reached 685, the government said today.

The opposition comments today were the latest sign the two sides are far from a compromise, and came just hours before former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan was due in Kenya to mediate.

Yoweri Museveni, president of neighboring Uganda, met with Kibaki today on another mediation mission.

Anyang Nyongo, secretary-general of opposition leader Raila Odinga's Orange Democratic Movement, said the party would file a complaint against the government and police with the International Criminal Court about "the abuse of rights by the police in this country." The case would name Kibaki, Cabinet ministers and the police commissioner, he said.

"The complaint states that crimes against humanity and state-sponsored terrorism are being committed by individuals as part of a systematic plan to target selected civilian populations in pursuit of political goals," Nyongo said.

It was not clear the complaint would result in an international investigation. The Hague-based court has looked into information sent to it by scores of groups citing possible abuses in places ranging from Iraq to Ivory Coast, but has not yet opened a formal investigation based on such tips. It also investigates complaints sent to it by the U.N. Security Council or countries that signed the treaty creating the court in 2002.

So far the court has launched formal cases in just four countries: Sudan, Congo, Uganda and Central African Republic.

In a statement today from the Hague on the Kenyan opposition plans, the ICC Office of the Prosecutor noted Kenya was a party to the international statute establishing the court, and that it "considers carefully all information relating to alleged crimes within its jurisdiction committed on the territory of States Parties or by nationals of States Parties, regardless of the individuals or group alleged to have committed the crime."

The Dec. 27 Kenyan election returned Kibaki to power for a second five-year term, with official results putting Odinga second in the closest presidential race in Kenya's history. Odinga accused Kibaki of stealing the vote, and protests exploded into riots and ethnic fighting.

Foreign and local election observers have said the vote count was deeply flawed. Although the electoral chief pronounced Kibaki the victor, he later said he had been pressured to do so and did not know who won.

U.S. Ambassador Michael Ranneberger urged a political settlement.

"The tragedy Kenya is now suffering, and the extremely bitter polarization of Kenyan society, demands that all leaders and institutions speak in a responsible, respectful and dignified tone," Ranneberger said in a statement today.

The election has tapped into resentments that resurface regularly at election time in Kenya. But never before has the anger been so prolonged or taken so many lives.

On today, police fired tear gas today to disperse dozens of Kibaki supporters.

"Kibaki is our president!" the supporters shouted in downtown Nairobi before riot police broke up the gathering.

As Kibaki's power becomes more entrenched each day, the opposition's best hope may rest in working out a power-sharing agreement that could make Odinga prime minister or vice president.

Odinga has called for another "peaceful protest" on Thursday, saying, "let them bring their guns and we will face them."

The protest will take place in defiance of a ban and despite the deaths of at least 24 people in three days of protests last week &

most blamed on police.

Odinga also has urged supporters to boycott companies owned by Kibaki allies, including Brookside Diaries and bus companies Citi Hoppa and Kenya Bus. On Monday, the government condemned the economic boycott as sabotage.

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