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Newly elected President Uhuru Kenyatta (right) and running mate William Ruto (left ) after the announcement of results in Nairobi, yesterday. RIGHT: Outgoing Prime Minister Raila Odinga addresses mediapersons at Creative Hub in Lavington, Nairobi.
NAIROBI: Uhuru Kenyatta narrowly won Kenya’s presidential election yesterday, urging calm and pledging to work with rivals and cooperate with the international community.
Kenyatta, son of Kenya’s founding president and one of Africa’s richest men who is also facing an international crimes against humanity trial, scraped by with 50.07 percent of the vote to avoid a runoff against his closest rival Raila Odinga.
However Odinga, the outgoing prime minister, said he would contest the results in court, raising tensions following the key poll.
Odinga’s charges yesterday echo accusations in 2007 presidential polls when he alleged he was robbed of victory, with disputed results triggering bloody ethnic violence in which more than 1,100 people were killed.
“We have highlighted so many irregularities in the tallying process,” Odinga told reporters, shortly after the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) chairman declared Kenyatta the “duly elected president”.
Kenyatta, dressed in a suit and red tie, beamed a wide smile as he waved his official victory certificate from the IEBC to cheers from the crowd.
But shortly afterwards Odinga — in his third failed attempt at the top job — said his party would challenge the result in the Supreme Court, adding he had “faith in the judiciary and the ruling will be respected.”
Political loyalties in Kenya are largely based along ethnic lines, and while Kenyatta’s majority Kikuyu people and the new found Kalenjin allies of his running mate William Ruto partied, the Luo of Odinga mourned their loss.
“Any violence now could destroy the country forever, and that would not serve anyone’s interests,” Odinga said, who won 43.31 percent of the vote.
But Kenyatta offered “my older brother” Odinga an olive branch, telling thousands of his party loyalists he wanted to work with him “in moving our nation forward.”
The new president-elect also called on his celebrating supporters not to laud it over those they have defeated, urging them in being “modest in our victory.”
Kenyatta’s 50.07 percent of the vote, according to the election commission figures, narrowly broke the 50-percent threshold needed to avoid a second round poll by around 8,400 votes.
The 51-year-old outgoing deputy prime minister — charismatic and able to appeal to all classes — will become the first leader to take power whilst facing trial in The Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC).