Kenya's leader 'would agree to new election' Claire Truscott and agencies Friday January 4, 2008 Guardian Unlimited Kenya's president, Mwai Kibaki, would accept a re-run of the disputed election which saw him retain power if a court orders it, his spokesman said today. After allegations of vote rigging led to violence and the deaths of 300 people, Kibaki's spokesman called on the courts to decide if a repeat of the poll was necessary. "We would accept even another election, as long as the constitution is followed," Alfred Mutua said. "If the courts decide it, we would accept that." The statement followed calls earlier today by the opposition Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), led by Raila Odinga, for a new election. But the ODM immediately dismissed the statement, saying the court system itself was corrupt and filled with Kibaki supporters. Kibaki's comments were followed by other pleas for peace by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who this afternoon said the president was open to the idea of a governing coalition. Tutu, who has been informally negotiating with both sides, said: "There is a great deal of hope since both the ODM and government have indicated they are open to negotiations. "They are still putting conditions ... but I think there is this eagerness. There's no sense here that you're on the verge of a military coup. I am hopeful, more hopeful," he said. Kibaki's spokesman said turmoil across the country was calming. "We have seen a reduction in the senseless violence. Things are fine," he said. Small groups of protesters continued to gather in the capital's slums for a postponed rally, but there was less violence than yesterday, according to reports. The opposition candidate, Raila Odinga, had called for one million people to gather in a city centre park yesterday, but it was postponed until today after police with tear gas and water cannons pushed protesters back. This morning's rally in Nairobi faltered however, when many leaders and supporters failed to show up in Uhuru Park, a traditional meeting place for political activists. One resident of the Mathare slum, where thousands of demonstrators battled police, said he was tired of fighting. "We're tired, we're not going to march," said Samuel Muhati. "Let the fighting stop." Meanwhile, the US assistant secretary of state, Jendayi Frazer, is due in Nairobi this evening to meet President Mwai Kibaki and Odinga. President George Bush urged the parties to come together. He said: "They have an opportunity to come together in some kind of arrangement that will help heal the wounds." France issued the strongest international criticism of the vote, backing opposition charges of fraud. "Were the elections rigged or not? I think so, many think so, the Americans think so, the British think so, and they know the country well," foreign minister Bernard Kouchner said. A week of ethnic violence and riots has followed the election, shocking the world and jeopardising Kenya's reputation as one of Africa's most stable democracies. More than 300 people have died in the clashes - some between police and protesters, others pitting members of Odinga's Luo ethnic group and other tribes against Kibaki's Kikuyus. More than 100,000 people have been forced to flee their homes by the violence, with more than 5,000 crossing the border to Uganda. As international pressure failed to bring Kibaki and Odinga together, there was increasing impatience among Kenyans reported in the country's national media. "Despite the words of concern by both sides... and public statements that they are ready for dialogue, belligerence is still drowning out voices of reason," said the Daily Nation newspaper. Yesterday, the attorney general, Amos Wako, called for an independent probe of the election counting. But he did not 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. Among the more than 300 dead was Kenyan Olympic athlete Lucas Sang, a middle-distance runner, who competed in the 1988 Seoul Olympics and 1992 games in Barcelona. Sang was attacked on Tuesday night by a stone-throwing gang as he walked with a group of friends. He died when a rock hit his head. Meanwhile, the United Nations World Food Programme said about 100,000 displaced people in the Northern Rift Valley could face starvation after the violence. The international Red Cross also said it was sending additional staff and relief supplies to the country. About 15 staff were on their way to Kenya to assess the situation and determine what food, medicine and other essentials are needed to help those affected by the violence.