NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) _ Religious leaders appealed to the United States and Britain on Thursday to urge President Daniel arap Moi to end political violence that has claimed nearly 300 lives in Kenya in seven months.

``Otherwise, we see a situation in which Kenya could become another Rwanda, Burundi or Somalia in the not too distant future,'' the Protestant and Catholic bishops said in a statement.

The statement was read by Anglican Bishop Peter Njenga after a memorial service for victims of the violence.

The attacks have forced thousands of people to flee their farms and homes. Their granaries and stores have been burned and livestock stolen. The tourism industry, Kenya's third earner of foreign currency after tea and coffee, has suffered because foreigners are afraid to visit.

U.S. envoy Jesse Jackson earlier this month urged Moi, 74 and serving a fifth, five-year term, to stop the fighting. ``It's debatable who started (the fighting), but it's clear the government must use its considerable resources to stop it,'' Jackson said.

At the service, clerics read the names of 272 people they said have died in the violence that started near the Indian Ocean port of Mombasa in August before spreading to central and western Kenya.

The government has accused opposition parties of instigating the fighting. The opposition has denied the charge.

The bishops said it was the government's duty to end the violence. They appealed to the United States and Britain to press Moi because of their good relations with Kenya.

``A government which is unable to protect the life, security and property of its citizens immediately lacks legal legitimacy, and, therefore, the loyalty of its citizens,'' their statement said.

The violence near Mombasa was aimed at the Kikuyu, Luo and Luhya tribes, who normally support the opposition.

In central Kenya, violence began after the December elections, which Moi and his Kenya African National Union party won with support from the president's Kalenjin group of tribes.

The bishops said all political parties should sign a peace accord and work with churches and civic groups to draw up a truly democratic constitution.