Kenyatta re­peats as Kenya’s leader

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - Ar­ti­cle, 6A

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.”


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