Kenyatta repeats as Kenya’s leader
Uhuru Kenyatta (left) and William Ruto, deputy president, chat Monday in Nairobi, Kenya, after they were announced the winners of the rerun of the country’s presidential race. Kenyatta, who kept the presidency in the first election, won the second contest with 98 percent of the votes.
NAIROBI, Kenya — President Uhuru Kenyatta on Monday was declared the winner of Kenya’s presidential election for the second time this year.
Kenyatta received 98 percent of the vote in a rerun election boycotted by Kenya’s main opposition leader, Raila Odinga.
While Kenyatta’s backers celebrated, supporters of Odinga skirmished with police in Nairobi slums and burned tires in Kisumu, one of the opposition strongholds in western Kenya. Odinga had challenged the results of the first election in August, which Kenyatta won with 54 percent of the vote to Odinga’s 45 percent.
Kenya’s election commission said the turnout of registered voters in the second election, held Thursday, was about 40 percent, compared with roughly twice that in August balloting that was nullified by the Supreme Court in September because of what it called “irregularities and illegalities.” Kenyatta received about 7.5 million votes in the second election, compared with about 8.2 million in August.
Odinga withdrew from the second election two weeks before the vote, arguing that the electoral commission could not oversee a free and fair process, and he called on his supporters to boycott. His name nevertheless appeared on the ballot, and he collected just over 73,000 votes, compared with nearly 7 million in August.
Elections officials also cast doubt on the credibility of the process in the days before the vote. One commissioner fled the country and resigned, citing death threats and questioning the impartiality of the commission. The top elections official, Wafula Chebukati, warned a week before the polls opened that political interference in the commission’s work was likely to undermine the credibility and neutrality of the vote.
Chebukati backtracked on that criticism while announcing the results Monday, declaring the process “free and fair.”
Kenyatta said he expected Odinga followers to mount new legal challenges, indicating the saga, which has left many Kenyans weary of conflict and has hurt business in East Africa’s economic hub, is not over.
“My victory today was just part of a process that is likely to once again be subjected to a constitutional test through our courts,” Kenyatta said at the election commission headquarters after the announcement of the results that gave him a second term. “I will submit to this constitutional path.”
At least 14 people have been killed in election-related violence since the Thursday vote, according to international officials, and more have been injured. The rights group Amnesty International said Monday that it had documented at least four deaths and more than a dozen injuries since the election that it said were committed by the police, most of them in western Kenya.
Government figures put the death toll at 10.
Rights groups documented nearly 70 deaths that they said occurred at the hands of police in the days after the August vote.
In his victory speech, Kenyatta boasted of his August victory and recast the Supreme Court’s nullification as an endorsement of his win.
“The numbers were never questioned,” Kenyatta said. “What the court questioned was the process of declaring my victory.”
On Saturday, violence broke out in the Kawangware neighborhood of Nairobi, where several people were wounded and a supermarket was burned down. Residents blamed people from Kenyatta’s ethnic group, the Kikuyu, from which he draws strong support.
One Western diplomat, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of protocol, expressed concern that the violence had taken on a more ethnic overtone in the days after the election.
Odinga, who is from the Luo ethnic group, and Kenyatta also faced off in a 2013 election similarly marred by allegations of vote-rigging. The opposition leader also ran unsuccessfully in 2007, and ethnic-fueled animosity after that vote led to the deaths of more than 1,000 people and forced 600,000 from their homes.
Martin Kimani, director of the Kenyan national counterterrorism center, said opposition supporters had provoked the violence. On Sunday, he accused Odinga of “dog-whistle politics” aimed at inciting ethnic violence and obstructing the vote.
“This is active sabotage of an election,” he said. “The dog whistle comes from the top, and the middle and lower levels act on it.”