NAIROBI, Kenya — Post-election tribal violence claimed its first political victim Tuesday — a young opposition lawmaker — as Sen. Barack Obama and former United Nations leader Kofi Annan urged Kenyans to find a peaceful solution.
Obama, D-Ill., whose late father was Kenyan, spoke on a popular FM radio station and urged President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga to negotiate without conditions.
"To refuse to do so ignores the will of Kenyans and the urging of the united international community," the Democratic presidential candidate said on Nairobi's Capital FM. "Now is the time for Kenya's leaders to rise above party affiliation and past divisions for the sake of peace."
More than 800 people have died in the violence in recent weeks after Kibaki claimed victory in an election that neutral observers said was rigged.
At talks presided over by former U.N. Secretary-General Annan on Tuesday, neither Kibaki nor Odinga signaled that he'd give up claims to the presidency.
"I wish to pledge my support, and that of my entire government, to this process," Kibaki said at a brief opening ceremony. When the 76-year-old president finished speaking, Odinga didn't applaud.
Mugabe Were, a freshman member of parliament, is the first politician to die since the violence began a month ago. Were was shot as he arrived at his home in a middle-class Nairobi suburb shortly after midnight. As he waited for the gate to open, two gunmen dragged him out of his car and shot him in the head and chest, according to news reports.
A shadowy gang known as the Mungiki, whose members come from Kibaki's Kikuyu community, claimed responsibility for Were's murder. The group, which is notorious for cultlike rituals and beheading its victims, also threatened several top political journalists, according to the news network KTN.
"We will cut off your head," read a text message received by radio journalist Paul Ilado.
After weeks of being targeted by opposition supporters who believe Kibaki's re-election was rigged, Kenya's Kikuyus are striking back. Mobs of rowdy Kikuyus faced off against rival tribes again in the lakeside town of Naivasha, 60 miles from Nairobi, where they've been blamed for at least 28 deaths since Sunday.
Two Kenyan military helicopters flew over Naivasha and fired rubber bullets to disperse the crowds.
Odinga blamed Were's killing on government supporters.
"This is an attempt at blackmail, intimidation of our members to succumb to an illegitimate, illegal regime," he said.
Were, 39, was a popular civic activist who established an orphanage for HIV-affected children in the poor Nairobi neighborhood of Dandora. He'd been elected last month as part of Odinga's slim majority in the parliament. News of his death brought opposition supporters into the streets of Dandora, where they set Kikuyu-owned homes and businesses ablaze.