NAIROBI, Kenya Kenya's opposition party called Friday for a rerun of the country's disputed election, as political deadlock between the president and his chief rival ground on after a week of spiraling violence.
There was no immediate comment from the government of President Mwai Kibaki, who is unlikely to accept such a demand.
The opposition vowed that violent street protests that shook Nairobi a day earlier would continue Friday, but by midday there no signs of a mass protest brewing. Small groups of protesters were gathering on street corners in the slums, though, saying they were preparing for a rally.
Anyang Nyongo, secretary-general of the opposition Orange Democratic Movement, said the country should ready "for a new election of the president." With the call, the opposition appeared to leave little room for compromise with Kibaki, who was declared winner of the Dec. 27 vote, setting the stage for more political tension.
"This is about a democracy and justice," Nyongo said. "We shall continue to defend and promote the right of Kenyans so that the democratic process should be fulfilled."
The opposition candidate, Raila Odinga, had called for a million people to gather Thursday in a park in the city center, but postponed that until Friday after protesters were pushed back by police with tear gas and water cannons.
In Kibera, the country's largest slum, shops remained shut Friday and small groups of protesters began to gather on street corners.
"Let people die and then there will be a change," said Joshua Okoth, standing with a group of young men by the smoking remains of a former food market in Kibera.
Okoth said he was trying to get to the rally in Uhuru Park, a traditional meeting place for political activists that was flooded with riot police Friday. Riot police also were patrolling the main roads leading from Kibera and other slums into central Nairobi.
The U.S. and Europe pushed for reconciliation, but said a "made-in-Kenya solution" is needed to end the violence that has killed 300 people and displaced 100,000 since Kibaki was declared the winner o the poll.
Jendayi Frazer, the top U.S. diplomat for Africa, planned to travel to Kenya for talks with Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said. Frazer would not serve as a mediator, but would try to encourage the leaders to talk, McCormack said.
On Thursday, Kibaki said he was "ready to have dialogue with concerned parties once the nation is calm and the political temperatures are lowered enough for constructive and productive engagement."
South African Nobel peace laureate Desmond Tutu met Odinga in Nairobi Thursday, saying afterward Odinga was ready for "the possibility of mediation." Kibaki's office said the president was expected to meet Tutu on Friday.
Government spokesman Alfred Mutua, however, said Kenya had no need for mediators. "We are not in a civil war," he said.
On Thursday, riot police fired tear gas and water cannons to beat back crowds of opposition protesters in Nairobi, where postelection violence in what had been one of Africa's most stable countries left shops, homes, cars and at least two churches in flames. Resident Ruth Otieno said Friday about 60 houses were burned down in Mathare overnight, displacing scores of families.
The violent images of burning churches, machete-wielding gangs, looters making off with gasoline are heartbreakingly common in a region that includes war-ravaged Somalia and Sudan, but until now not in Kenya.
The dispute over the Dec. 27 vote has degenerated into violence pitting Kibaki's influential Kikuyus against Odinga's Luos and other tribes. The upheaval has spread to the coast and the western highlands.
The World Bank issued a statement saying the unrest "threatens impressive recent gains in economic growth and poverty reduction" in a country with a billion-dollar tourism industry and a gross domestic product growth rate of 7 percent.
The turmoil has seen businesses lose millions of dollars, the vibrant stock exchange lose 5 percent of the value of shares, lucrative tea auctions suspended and agricultural activity in Kenya's breadbasket region largely halted, the World Bank said in a statement it said also reflected the views of eight development partners including the U.S. and the European Commission.
Hundreds of young men marched in the coastal resort of Mombasa on Thursday but were quickly pushed back by security forces. Police shot one protester in the head and he was taken to a hospital, said witness Moses Baya.
International observers say the vote was flawed. On Thursday, Attorney General Amos Wako called for an independent probe of the counting. He 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.
Wako, who was appointed to his lifetime post by former President Daniel arap Moi, has been seen as close to Kibaki.
The decision to launch an independent election probe was a surprise and could reflect the seriousness of the rigging allegations. But the government has a long history of appointing independent commissions to investigate wrongdoing, only to have them take years and end with reports that are never released and have no practical effects.
Mutua told The Associated Press he had "no problem" with Wako's call. But Odinga's spokesman, Salim Lone, rejected it, saying his party had "no faith in any government institution."