Kenya’s in­cum­bent is de­clared the win­ner

As Pres­i­dent Keny­atta ap­peals for calm, vi­o­lence flares in op­po­si­tion ar­eas.

Los Angeles Times - - THE WORLD - By Robyn Dixon robyn.dixon@la­times.com

NAIROBI, Kenya — Kenya’s in­cum­bent Pres­i­dent Uhuru Keny­atta was of­fi­cially de­clared the win­ner Fri­day of a heated elec­tion that his ri­val claims to have won, set­ting off vi­o­lent protests in some op­po­si­tion strongholds.

Re­ports of ri­ot­ing in sev­eral slum dis­tricts of the cap­i­tal, Nairobi, and in parts of western Kenya stoked fears of a reprise of deadly eth­nic fight­ing that followed an­other dis­puted elec­tion a decade ago.

In a na­tion­ally tele­vised ad­dress, Keny­atta reached out to his op­po­nents and ap­pealed for calm, say­ing, “We are not en­e­mies. We are all cit­i­zens of one repub­lic.

“Let us al­ways re­mem­ber that we are broth­ers and sis­ters,” he said. “Let us be peace­ful. There is no need for vi­o­lence. Your neigh­bor is your neigh­bor, re­gard­less of their eth­nic­ity.”

Keny­atta won just over 54% of the vote Tues­day, com­pared with 45% for his ri­val, Raila Odinga, ac­cord­ing to re­sults re­leased by the In­de­pen­dent Elec­toral and Bound­aries Com­mis­sion.

But lead­ers of the op­po­si­tion Na­tional Su­per Al­liance re­jected the re­sults be­fore they were even an­nounced, say­ing they had ob­tained fig­ures from the com­mis­sion’s com­puter servers show­ing that Odinga won just over 50% of the vote.

“If they can open those servers, we are will­ing to ac­cept the re­sult based on what is in those servers,” a se­nior op­po­si­tion fig­ure, James Orengo, told re­porters. “There should be no rush to judg­ment . ... The matter may not be closed as soon as some peo­ple think.”

Wa­fula Che­bukati, the elec­toral com­mis­sion’s chair­man, de­clined to give op­po­si­tion of­fi­cials ac­cess to the com­puter sys­tem, say­ing he would deal with their con­cerns af­ter the fi­nal re­sults were de­clared.

Shortly be­fore the of­fi­cial an­nounce­ment, op­po­si­tion lead­ers ad­dressed re­porters again and said they wanted no part in the re­sults.

A se­nior op­po­si­tion fig­ure, Musalia Mu­davadi, said the coali­tion had raised “very se­ri­ous con­cerns” with the com­mis­sion that had “not been ad­e­quately ad­dressed.”

Orengo called the re­sult “a cha­rade” and ac­cused the elec­toral com­mis­sion of vi­o­lat­ing Kenya’s con­sti­tu­tion. He said go­ing to court was “not an op­tion” and “Kenyans al­ways rise up.”

The re­sult, which had been ex­pected by midafter­noon, came af­ter dark­ness fell.

Soon af­ter­ward, there were re­ports of vi­o­lent ex­changes be­tween op­po­si­tion sup­port­ers and po­lice, who re­sponded with tear gas and in some cases live bul­lets, ac­cord­ing to wit­nesses.

“Ev­ery­body is out­side and protest­ing,” said Petronella Achieng, 32, a res­i­dent of Nairobi’s Kib­era slum, who was reached by phone. “Po­lice are chasing peo­ple out of the road, but peo­ple are also throw­ing stones back.”

In Mathare, an­other volatile slum dis­trict, youths poured into the streets as soon as the re­sult was an­nounced and started at­tack­ing homes, ac­cord­ing to a lo­cal peace ac­tivist, Jakiwa Inda. “Peo­ple are demon­strat­ing, and there’s a lot of tear gas,” he said.

There were also re­ports of clashes in Kisumu, an op­po­si­tion stronghold in western Kenya.

It was not im­me­di­ately pos­si­ble to con­firm whether there were any ca­su­al­ties; at least three peo­ple were killed in clashes ear­lier in the week.

It is the third suc­ces­sive elec­tion that Odinga, 72, has lost and dis­puted. In a na­tion where eth­nic­ity plays a large role in voter loy­al­ties, and po­lit­i­cal power is of­ten used to hand out jobs and pa­tron­age to eth­nic al­lies, Odinga’s Luo sup­port­ers feel marginal­ized and ex­cluded.

Vi­o­lence broke out across Kenya af­ter a dis­puted elec­tion in 2007. Then-Pres­i­dent Mwai Kibaki, a Kikuyu, had him­self sworn into of­fice in the dead of night, spark­ing eth­nic clashes that left some 1,500 peo­ple dead.

The elec­toral com­mis­sion’s elec­tronic vote tab­u­la­tion sys­tem was in­tended to help re­store con­fi­dence in the elec­tion process. But ac­cu­sa­tions by the op­po­si­tion in re­cent days that the com­mis­sion’s com­put­ers had been hacked un­der­mined the al­ready frag­ile public trust in the sys­tem.

As the re­sults were be­ing counted this week, op­po­si­tion of­fi­cials re­peat­edly as­serted that the fig­ures dis­played by the elec­toral com­mis­sion dif­fered from those on its server — a claim re­jected by elec­toral of­fi­cials. The op­po­si­tion also al­leged that the com­mis­sion had not re­ceived about 11,000 of the of­fi­cial tally forms com­piled at more than 40,800 polling sta­tions.

The op­po­si­tion has the right to chal­lenge the re­sult in court, al­though Odinga did so un­suc­cess­fully in 2013. While cam­paign­ing this year, Odinga in­sisted that if he lost again, it meant that the elec­tion must be rigged, and he hinted that he might call for protests.

Keny­atta, the 55-year-old son of Kenya’s first pres­i­dent af­ter in­de­pen­dence from Bri­tain, ap­peared ju­bi­lant Fri­day. Wild cel­e­bra­tions broke out among his sup­port­ers as ex­pec­ta­tions about the re­sult rose and con­tin­ued into the night.

Ben Cur­tis As­so­ci­ated Press

SUP­PORT­ERS of Kenyan Pres­i­dent Uhuru Keny­atta cel­e­brate the of­fi­cial an­nounce­ment con­firm­ing his re­elec­tion in Nairobi.

Carl de Souza AFP/Getty Im­ages

OP­PO­SI­TION protesters set fires in Nairobi’s Kib­era dis­trict. Their can­di­date dis­putes the vote re­sult.

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