Kenyatta wins in official results
Backers celebrate; in Kenya areas favoring rival, shots ring out
NAIROBI, Kenya — President Uhuru Kenyatta was declared the winner Friday of Kenya’s presidential election, but opposition candidate Raila Odinga alleged the voting was rigged.
In announcing the results of Tuesday’s contest, the election commission said Kenyatta won a second term with 54 percent in balloting it called “credible, fair and peaceful.”
Hundreds of riot police were in the streets of the capital, Nairobi, over fears of further protests by opposition supporters, who called the vote a “charade” and said challenging the outcome in court wasn’t an option.
Kenyatta, the 55-year-old son of Kenya’s first president after independence from Britain, appealed for calm and unity. “Let us shun violence and let us refuse to be used for short-term political gain,” he said.
He said he was extending a “hand of friendship” to “our older brother,” Odinga, 72.
“We need and must continue to work together for the welfare of our people and in order to keep this country united,” said Kenyatta, who also defeated Odinga in 2013. “We reach out to you. We reach out to your supporters.”
Since the election earlier this week, the capital of Nairobi was transformed into a relative ghost town, with many families leaving out of fear of violent protests. On Friday morning, in anticipation of the official results being announced, Odinga’s supporters staged small demonstrations in some areas, taunting the police and chanting “No Raila, no peace.”
The capital also braced for violence Friday night by deploying police in the central business district.
Though Kenya has been considered a model of political and economic stability in East Africa in recent years, it is riven by tribal loyalties. In 2007, more than 1,000 people were killed in ethnic violence after Odinga lost that year’s presidential election amid alleged vote-rigging.
“We have seen the results of political violence, and I am certain there is no single Kenyan who would wish to go back to those days,” Kenyatta said.
Although celebrations by backers of Kenyatta were reported in several cities across Kenya, gunshots and screams were heard in at least two areas populated by Odinga supporters, according to police and a witness.
The gunfire rang out in the Nairobi slum of Kibera and in the southwestern city of Kisumu, the witnesses said. Youths also were reported to be throwing stones at cars in Kibera.
“There are gunshots all over; we don’t know how it will end but we are praying for peace,” said Kisumu resident Lucas Odhiambo, adding that people were bellowing through “vuvuzela” noisemakers when the results were announced “and police moved in.”
The election commission rejected claims by Odinga, a former prime minister, that its database was hacked and results were manipulated against him. Election monitors, including former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, also said they saw no signs of a rigged vote and that there is enough documentation to settle any disputes over the results.
But Odinga supporters, many of them members of his Luo tribe or its allies, said they were being robbed of yet another election. The Luo are one of the major ethnic groups in Kenya, but a Luo has never been president of Kenya, and many members of the tribe attribute their socioeconomic troubles to their group’s political exclusion.
“We are tired of being ruled by Kikuyus,” said Wycliffe Onyalo, 25, who was demonstrating in favor of Odinga on Friday morning on the main street of Kibera, before the results were announced.
The election commission affirmed there was a hacking attempt but said it failed, and that Odinga’s camp had no right to declare him the winner.
Earlier Friday, the opposition said it had asked for access to the commission’s servers to confirm whether the alleged hacking took place. If granted, it said it would accept the results, even if they showed that Kenyatta won.
Kenyatta has not commented on Odinga’s allegations.
U.S. Ambassador Robert Godec said any disputes should be dealt with through legal channels. “No Kenyan should die because of an election,” he said.
The dayslong wait for the election results increased tensions in the nation of 45 million people, though the commission by law had until Tuesday to announce them. At least three people were killed in clashes between police and opposition supporters during that time.
Ballots were being counted Friday in Nairobi, Kenya, before the results of the presidential election were announced.