Kenyan police have fired water cannons against several hundred anti-government protesters trying to attend a banned rally in Nairobi.

The Kenyan opposition leader, Raila Odinga, has called for a million people to turn up for the event. Security forces have surrounded the park where the rally is due to be held. Refusing to accept defeat to Mwai Kibaki in the 27 December presidential election, Mr Odinga’s party boycotted crisis talks with the new president.

Wearing white scarves and singing Kenya’s national anthem, the protesters from the Kibera slum had marched to within about a mile from Nairobi’s city centre when they were stopped by police on Thursday morning. More than 300 people have been killed and at least 70,000 driven from their homes across Kenya since Sunday. Both sides hardened their positions ahead of the planned mass rally in Uhuru Park, the BBC’s Grant Ferrett reports from Nairobi.

And hopes of outside mediation are fading with news that a visit by African Union leader John Kufuor to Nairobi is unlikely to happen, our correspondent adds. Mr Odinga said the rally would send a peaceful message to supporters opposition. Salim Lone, his campaign manager, told the BBC that his party was not courting trouble.

“The eyes of the world are on us for this rally, because everywhere Mr Odinga goes, he is asked are you going to allow this rally to happen,” he said. But Vice-President Moody Awori urged Mr Odinga to accept defeat and call off the protest. “Please do not risk the lives of Kenyans, encouraging a large crowd of people coming in Nairobi on a working day,” he said, speaking to reporters.

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  • Kenya Burns as the ‘leaders’ fight for the House on the Hill. Why? The greed for power hence the fanning the tribal flames with the famous quote “It is our (read tribe) time to eat”. When this person wins and becomes the president, he forgets who chose him, his country. If he does anything wrong and is criticized, the quote “our tribe is being attacked” becomes common.

    The 2007 election campaigns were basically about tribes. On one hand Kikuyu commonly referred to as ‘Mt Kenya Mafia , thieves,richmen etc (Kibaki’s tribe and majority PNU members, and on the otherside Luo (Odinga’s tribe) ,Luhya Kalenjin etc (ODM members).

    While the election results are disputable, the issue is not about Unity of Kenya But our tribe.

    Its not of doubt that Kikuyus are the main investors in most of the districts in Kenya and have settled in most parts of the country and have become farmers, business people through legal means. Their success has brought the issue of Kikuyus be evicted from other areas to their ‘home’ in Central Province. Their Businesses and homes have been looted and burnt, they have been killed and maimed (The church refugees are just a pointer) Why? I don’t know.

    Is this a case of Genocide, cut to size this successful tribe?