Protests, joy erupt in Kenya as Kenyatta wins second term

President-elect Uhuru Kenyatta and Vice-President elect William Ruto celebrate their victory after results were announced on Friday night. PHOTOS PSCU

Nairobi, Kenya | AFP |  Celebrations and riots erupted across Kenya Friday night after President Uhuru Kenyatta was declared the victor in an election the opposition rejected as a “charade” after claims of massive rigging.

According to the election commission (IEBC) Kenyatta won the presidential race with 54.27 percent to rival Raila Odinga’s 44.74 in Tuesday’s election, handing him a second term at the helm of east Africa’s richest economy.

Angry protests erupted almost immediately in Odinga’s strongholds: in Nairobi’s biggest slum Kibera police fired bullets in the direction of protesters, who looted and attacked businesses they said belonged to Kenyatta supporters, an AFP photographer said.

In other slum and poor areas around the capital, as well as the western city of Kisumu, gunshots rang out and protesters lit fires in the street.

The fury from Odinga’s supporters came in stark contrast to the cheers from Kenyatta’s camp in his strongholds, with vuvuzelas and cries of joy in the streets.

The result is a gloomy reminder to Kenyans of the outcome of a disputed 2007 election which led to two months of ethno-political violence that left 1,100 dead and 600,000 displaced.

All eyes will now be on the reaction of Odinga, who has now lost three elections he claims were stolen from him.

In 2013 the veteran opposition leader took his grievances to court and lost.

“We have been there before. Court is not an alternative,” said top NASA official James Orengo, slamming the process as a “charade”.

After being declared the victor, Kenyatta reached out to Odinga and his supporters, to “work together… so that we can build this nation together”.

“We are not enemies. As with any competition there shall always be winners and there shall be losers but we all belong to one great nation of Kenya,” he said.

“Let us be peaceful… We have seen the results of political violence. And I am certain that there is no single Kenyan who would wish for us to go back to this.”

– Hacking, manipulation –

Odinga had called for calm from his supporters before the announcement, but added: “I don’t control anybody. People want to see justice.”

The National Super Alliance (NASA) opposition coalition refused to take part in the announcement of results, which came just hours after they had requested the IEBC hold off until their concerns had been addressed.

“We are not going to be party to it, our issues have not been addressed,” said top NASA leader Musalia Mudavadi.

Turnout for Tuesday’s vote was 78.91 percent.

Foreign observers praised a peaceful, credible voting process, but the mood quickly turned sour when Odinga rejected the results after only a few hours of counting.

NASA has claimed both that the results were manipulated by a massive hacking attack, and that it is in possession of results being concealed on IEBC servers that show Odinga to be the rightful winner.

On Thursday they demanded Odinga be declared president on these grounds.

NASA demanded access to the IEBC’s servers, saying they would accept any result contained therein, as they remain convinced the commission has released manipulated results.

– ‘Violence not an option’ –

US Ambassador Bob Godec earlier joined foreign observers in urging parties to use legal means to deal with their grievances.

“Violence must never be an option. No Kenyan should die because of an election. Kenya’s future is more important than any election. Leaders above all need to make that clear,” Godec said.

Six people have died in election-related violence, including two protesters in Nairobi shot dead by police on Wednesday.

Before the election the race between Odinga and Kenyatta was seen by pollsters as too close to call.

It was billed as the final showdown between the two men whose fathers Jomo Kenyatta and Jaramogi Odinga were allies in the struggle for independence, but later became bitter rivals, setting the stage for decades of political rancour.

In his first term, Kenyatta, 55, was credited with a massive infrastructure drive and overseeing steady economic growth.

However his administration has been dogged by several graft scandals, with the country dropping six points in Transparency International’s corruption index in 2016.



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