Protests off as Kenya death toll nears 500
Opposition leader Raila Odinga said after meeting U.S. envoy Jendayi Frazer for a second time that he had been assured the "mediation process is about to start." He cancelled protests until further notice.
"I will continue to pursue all legal and peaceful means to ensure that the true election results are respected," Odinga told reporters, urging his supporters to reject violence.
Meanwhile, Kibaki's office called for parliament to meet in its first session on January 15.
Dramatically updating previous figures, the government gave a toll of 486 dead and 255,000 displaced from more than a week of turmoil since President Mwai Kibaki's disputed re-election.
Aid workers say the toll could go much higher after one of Kenya's worst crises since its 1963 independence from Britain.
Odinga had looked on course to win the December 27 election until Kibaki, 76, was handed a narrow victory. Both sides alleged massive rigging and international observers say the poll fell short of democratic standards.
The election and subsequent violence has marred Kenya's image as a bastion of stability in east Africa and threatened its economy -- the region's largest.
While much of the country returned to calm, there was an unconfirmed report from Uganda that 30 Kenyans might have drowned after being pursued by attackers into a river on the border. Police on the Kenyan side could not confirm the report.
Odinga, who turned 63 on Monday, faces a dilemma of responding to international pressure to avoid provoking any more violence, while also maintaining momentum to oust Kibaki.
Kibaki's government accuses Odinga's Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) of "grandstanding" and stoking further unrest.
Fanning the controversy, the Law Society of Kenya accused electoral officials of "dishonesty and ineptitude," called Kibaki's swearing-in "null and void," and urged a fresh vote.
"Honorable Kibaki lacks legitimacy to govern and this is the cause of the problems that we are facing as a country."
African Union Chairman John Kufuor, Ghana's president, was due to arrive in Kenya late on Tuesday to mediate between Odinga and Kibaki, whose mutual distrust is a key obstacle to any solution.
Kibaki has said he is ready to form "a government of national unity." But Odinga wants him to step down and hold internationally mediated talks to agree on a "transitional arrangement" before a new vote in three to six months.
Around the country of 36 million people, Kenyans were struggling to come to terms with the wave of violence.
The poor in city slums and rural areas have been worst hit, while the political elite, other affluent Kenyans and expatriates have been largely unaffected in guarded compounds.
The election dispute unleashed protests, riots and anarchy that have scattered refugees across a nation more used to helping those fleeing from countries like Sudan and Somalia.
Eleven U.N. trucks were heading to western Kenya, the heart of the refugee crisis, under police escort on Monday, with enough food to feed 38,000 people for two weeks.
Much of the trouble has pitched opposition supporters against members of Kibaki's Kikuyu tribe, including the massacre of about 30 people sheltering in a church near Eldoret, a western town with decades-old land tensions.
The government said it was investigating claims by some victims of the recent clashes that they were warned beforehand that if they supported Kibaki, "they would pay for it."
"If this is shown to be what occurred, it amounts to pre-meditated murder," it said in a statement.
Kenyans are aghast at images beamed around the world of the chaos in their nation, a popular tourist destination and regional base for numerous international institutions.
But many are also offended at superficial depictions of tribal warfare that do not explore the many other roots of the violence: land disputes dating back to colonial times, wealth disparities, and incitement by politicians.
(Additional reporting by Bryson Hull, Radu Sigheti, Helen Nyambura-Mwaura, Andrew Cawthorne, Duncan Miriri; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Mary Gabriel)
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