Opposition calls process 'charade,' raising concern about violent protest
Uhuru Kenyatta has been re-elected as president in Kenya, the electoral commission in the East African country announced Friday evening, but the opposition has said it will not accept the result.
Wafula Chebukati, chair of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, said Kenyatta earned just over 54 per cent of the vote with a turnout of over 19 million. He expressed confidence the election was "credible, fair and peaceful."
Kenyatta, 55-year-old leader of the Jubilee Party, wins a second term in office.
Kenyatta said he was grateful for the confidence the voters had entrusted in him, and pledged that his administration would "rededicate ourselves even more towards serving this great nation."
He extended an olive branch to main rival Raila Odinga and the opposition, stating, "We are not enemies, we are all citizens of one republic."
Supporters of Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta cheer as they await an expected announcement of his victory, at the Kenya International Conference Centre in downtown Nairobi on Friday. (Ben Curtis/Associated Press)
Kenyatta asked voters to reject violent protest over the result, in a country where more than 1,000 people were killed following the contested 2007 vote.
In Nairobi and elsewhere in Kenya, his supporters took to the streets to celebrate, honking car horns and blowing whistles.
There were also protests, however. Police fired tear gas and gunshots were heard in the Nairobi slums of Mathare and Kawangware, where young men took to the streets as police helicopters buzzed overhead.
In Kisumu, an Odinga stronghold in the west, youths banged drums and tires burned in the streets in the Kondele district.
Just before the announcement, a senior official from the opposition said it "wouldn't be a party" to a process he characterized as a "charade" because its concerns had not been addressed by the electoral commission.
"We raised some very serious concerns, they have not responded to them," said James Orengo, one of the lieutenants to Odinga, who tallied 44.7 per cent of the vote.
Earlier in the day, Kenya's opposition coalition the National Super Alliance had said it would accept the result of this week's presidential vote if the election commission granted it access to see raw data on its computer servers.
The move was a significant climb-down from its previous position when the coalition rejected figures released by the commission and said Odinga should be declared president.
The opposition has continually made allegations of corrupted ballots since Monday's vote, but several international monitors from a group that included former U.S. secretary of state John Kerry, former South Africa president Thabo Mbeki and officials from the European Union, said they could find no credible evidence to support the contentions.
"When these characters, when you hear their names, they look like heaven," said Orengo, who questioned the motives of the visiting monitors.
"Nobody should think that this is the end of the matter," he said. "Going to court is not an alternative."
Odinga also questioned the results of the two previous elections, in which he also ran.
Fears of violence were heightened in the run-up to the election, when senior electoral official Chris Msamdo was found dead, the victim of an apparent homicide.