ELECTION: KENYATTA’S KENYA
The AfricaPaper | Kenya
NAIROBI – Kenyans waited four days for the outcome of the election. It was a tense atmosphere full of political speculations. An election that many around the world monitored with keen interest, but finally, Uhuru Kenyatta has been elected to serve the same office his father held 40 years ago. From Nairobi The AfricaPaper’s correspondent reports.
Officials from the Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) said Uhuru Kenyatta, 51, won 50.07 percent of the vote, a narrow win to avoid a run-off. On Saturday, Kenyatta, the country’s deputy prime minister was declared winner of the presidential election, and promised to work with the main opposition leader Raila Odinga.
“I therefore declare Uhuru Kenyatta the duly elected president of the Republic of Kenya,” said Issack Hassan, chairman of the IEBC, as he announced the election results. The president-elect was also handed a certificate declaring him as the winner of the much anticipated result avoiding a repeat of last election’s tribal conflict that left nearly 1,200 people dead.
In a press statement, main opposition leader Raila Odinga alleged massive electoral fraud, and promised to challenge the results of the “tainted election” in the Supreme Court. As of this article, Mr. Kenyatta remains the winner.
Failed Electronic System
The vote count was plagued with technical problems that include a programming error that rejected thousand of votes. Odinga’s CORD party complained that votes from 11 constituencies were unaccounted for, leaving him more than 250,000 votes less.
Kenya’s new electronic system used to transmit vote results was designed to eliminate election fraud, but it failed. It was introduced to avoid a repeat of the 2007 post-poll violence that crippled Kenya’s economy and tarnished its image as one of Africa’s stable nations.
Kenyatta won the presidential election by a narrow margin of 6,173,433 votes out of more than 12.3 million vote cast, and Odinga carried 5,340,546 votes in an election contested by eight candidates.
Enter the ICC
For the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, the election outcome will determine its next step according to Kenyatta’s supporters. Scheduled to stand trial at the ICC over violence from the 2007 election, Kenyatta and his deputy, William Ruto face charges of crimes against humanity, including alleged support of communal violence that resulted in the deaths of more than 1,200 people, and an estimated 600,000 internally displaced.
With a turnout of about 86 percent, the largest ever; IEBC described the elections as complex, but credible and transparent. Hassan praised the candidates who had already conceded defeat and urged other opposition candidates to do the same.
At the Catholic University in Nairobi, Kenyatta called on Raila Odinga and other leaders to “join us in moving our nation forward.” He promised his cheering supporters and opponents to rule Kenya “without fear or favor.”
Democracy on Trial
Mr. Odinga, who serves as the country’s current prime minister, said the IEBC had “failed Kenyans” and that democracy itself was “on trial.”
“Any violence could destroy this nation forever,” Odinga, 68, said to his supporters as he appealed for calm. In previous interviews, Kenyatta told The AfricaPaper that his country is ready for peace, business, and development with international partners.
Meanwhile, Kenyans in Minnesota want to see how Odinga’s supporters will take the defeat, either to wait for the courts or take to the streets. Many continue to pray for peace in their country.
Mr. Kenyatta said his Jubilee Coalition party is “proud and honored for the trust” in electing him. He told supporters that the party had taken its message to the people that “we [Jubilee Coalition] are grateful to the people of Kenya for accepting this message.”
Thousands of Kenyatta’s supporters took to the streets of Nairobi early Saturday morning to celebrate the party’s victory. Many shouting, “Amani!” [Peace].
As the newly elected president, Kenyatta faces the difficult task of patching his Kenya’s political and diplomatic relations with Western countries and international bodies. Many western representatives are based in Kenya’s capital Nairobi.
The ICC wants to start his trial in July, after lawyers asked for more time for his defense. But, the task is how to try a sitting president, especially as many Africans view the ICC as a body only interested in staging trials for African leaders. Kenyatta and Ruto continue to deny the accusations.
“To the nations of the world I give you my assurances that I and my team understand that Kenya is part of the community of nations and while as leaders we are, first and foremost, servants of the Kenyan people,” Mr. Kenyatta promised in his victory speech. “We recognize and accept our international obligations and we will continue to co-operate with all nations and international institutions– in line with those obligations.”
Though the US and UK indicated there be consequences in electing Kenyatta, the son of Kenya’s first president Jomo Kenyatta. Many of his supporters at home and in Minnesota view it as foreign interference.
“However we also expect that the international community will respect our sovereignty and the democratic will of the people of Kenya,” Kenyatta warned. Political analysts say the ICC case against Kenyatta helped his elections a people went amass to the polls to elect him.
Kenyatta’s estimated $500 million family fortune, also helped to catapult him to power. Mr. Odinga also hales from a rich background. His late father Jaramogi Oginga Odinga served as Kenya’s first vice president under Jomo Kenyatta.
The AfricaPaper’s correspondent in Nairobi says police set up barricades around Kibera slum, checking cars and searching trunks for weapons and machetes. Before the election, many parts of Nairobi and villages were covered with Kenyatta’s red party color. Campaign posters and giant billboards read “UHURUTO.”
Party members say Kenyatta is confident and a smooth-talker that doesn’t need a speech writer, and can represent them well in the international community.
“We dutifully turned out, we voted in peace, we upheld order,” added Kenyatta, who graduated from Amherst College, MA, in 1985. “That, ladies and gentleman, is the real victory.”
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