Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 20 August 2014

Kenyatta poll win disputed by rival

Uhuru Kenyatta casts his vote (AP/Ben Curtis)
Supporters of Kenyan presidential candidate Uhuru Kenyatta celebrate (AP/Ben Curtis)

Uhuru Kenyatta, the son of Kenya's founding father, has been named the winner of the country's presidential election with 50.07% of the vote but his opponent refused to concede, alleging multiple failures in the election's integrity.

Supporters of Mr Kenyatta - a man accused by an international court of helping to orchestrate the violence that marred the nation's last vote - flooded the streets, celebrating in a parade of red, his campaign's colour.

Refusing to accept defeat, prime minister Raila Odinga said the election process experienced multiple failures as he announced plans to petition the Supreme Court.

Mr Odinga asked for calm and for Kenyans to love one another, a call that may help prevent a repeat of the 2007-08 violence in which more than 1,000 people were killed and that brought Kenya to the edge of civil war.

Mr Kenyatta's slim margin of victory increases the focus on a multitude of electoral failures that occurred during the six-day voting and counting process. His margin of victory was just about 8,000 votes out of 12.3 million cast.

The United States, Britain and the European Union gave Kenya's new political era a chilly reception. All released statements congratulating the Kenyan people but none mentioned Mr Kenyatta by name. The West had made it clear before the vote that it would not welcome a president Kenyatta.

Mr Kenyatta faces trial in July at the International Criminal Court over allegations he orchestrated the murder, forcible deportation, persecution and rape of Mr Odinga's supporters in the aftermath of the 2007 vote. Mr Kenyatta, as president, may have to spend large chunks of his first years in Kenya's highest office in a courtroom in The Hague.

The United States previously warned of "consequences" if Mr Kenyatta wins, the nature of which depends on what happens in coming months. Britain has said it would have only essential contact with Mr Kenyatta as president.

In his acceptance speech, Mr Kenyatta gave a nod to the ICC, saying he recognises the nation's international obligations. He pledged to continue to co-operate with "international institutions," but he also said he expects the international community to "respect our sovereignty and the democratic will of the people of Kenya."

Mr Kenyatta was immediately afforded the state security for a president-elect, travelling in a shiny black convoy from the tallying centre to his election headquarters. In his speech, he thanked Mr Odinga - calling him "my brother" - for a spirited campaign.

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