Kenyatta wins Kenya's election

International court urges Kenyatta to keep co-operating

President-elect Uhuru Kenyatta (right) greets his supporters with his running mate, former cabinet minister William Ruto after he was declared winner of Kenya's presidential election with a tiny margin. Photograpg: Reuters

President-elect Uhuru Kenyatta (right) greets his supporters with his running mate, former cabinet minister William Ruto after he was declared winner of Kenya's presidential election with a tiny margin. Photograpg: Reuters

Sun, Mar 10, 2013, 10:23

Uhuru Kenyatta, indicted for crimes against humanity, was declared winner of Kenya's presidential election last night, but rival Raila Odinga said he would challenge the outcome in court and asked supporters to avoid violence.

Mr Kenyatta, Kenya's richest man and son of its founding president, faces trial on charges of playing a leading role in the wave of tribal killings that followed the disputed 2007 presidential election.

His win avoided what could have been a divisive a run-off pencilled in for April.

With Kenyatta (51) in the top job, Kenya will become the second African country after Sudan to have a sitting president who has been indicted by the International Criminal Court.

The US and other western powers, big donors to the east African country, said before the vote that a Kenyatta win would complicate diplomatic ties with a nation viewed as a vital ally in a regional battle against militant Islam.

In his acceptance speech, Kenyatta said he and his team would co-operate with international institutions and that he expected the world to respect Kenya's sovereignty.

"We recognise and accept our international obligations and we will continue to co-operate with all nations and international institutions - in line with those obligations."

After saying Kenyatta secured 50.07 per cent of the vote, edging over the 50 per cent needed to avoid a second round, the chairman of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, Issack Hassan, announced: "I therefore declare Uhuru Kenyatta the duly elected president of the Republic of Kenya."

Shortly afterwards, Mr Hassan handed a certificate of the results to Mr Kenyatta, who had arrived after the declaration. Mr Kenyatta thanked him and went to a nearby university campus in the capital Nairobi where he delivered his acceptance speech.

Many in the election centre cheered, although celebrations started in the early hours of yesterday after provisional results indicated Kenyatta's victory. Supporters thronged the streets of Nairobi and his tribal strongholds, lighting fluorescent flares, waving tree branches and chanting "Uhuru, Uhuru".

Violence flared briefly in Mr Odinga's heartlands where police fired teargas at supporters of the defeated candidate who were throwing stones. "No Raila, no peace!" they chanted at the scene near the western city of Kisumu, which was shattered by violence after the 2007 election.

Last time the bloodshed started immediately after the election results, and analysts predicted that Kenya was likely to escape fighting this time around.

Mr Odinga ( 68) said he would have conceded if the vote was fair, adding that there was "rampant illegality" in the electoral process and that "democracy was on trial in Kenya" and he would challenge it in court.

"Any violence now could destroy this nation forever, but it would not serve anyone's interests," he said.

Mr Odinga, who secured 43.3 per cent of the vote, had also questioned the election process before the balloting and during the count his party officials had called for tallying to stop.

The election commission, plagued by technical problems that slowed the count, took five days to announce the result. It dismissed accusations of irregularities.

International observers broadly said the vote and count had been transparent so far and the electoral commission, which replaced a discredited body, said it delivered a credible vote.

Kenyatta, now the deputy prime minister, climbed above 50 per cent by just 8,400 of the more than 12.3 million votes cast.

Both sides relied heavily on their ethnic groups in a nation where tribal loyalties mostly trump ideology at the ballot box. Kenyatta is a Kikuyu, the biggest of Kenya's many tribes, while Odinga is a Luo. Both had running mates from other tribes.

Reuters