The Kenyan Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has officially declared Uhuru Kenyatta, from the Jubilee alliance, as Kenya’s fourth president today.
Kenyatta received just over 50.07% of the vote, narrowly avoiding a run-off election with the rival candidate Raila Odinga. Jubilee supporters started celebration in the early hours of Saturday after the final constituencies reported their results, and these grew in number when the results were confirmed by the IEBC at the Bomas of Kenya.
Uhuru Kenyatta was met with singing as he stepped on to the stage to make his acceptance speech. He thanked the people for their patience and faith in democracy: “Despite the misgivings of many in the world- we demonstrated a level of political maturity that surpassed expectations.
“Today, I am honoured and humbled that in a free and fair election- you, the people of Kenya, have placed your trust in me- to lead our nation as your next President.”
However, Raila Odinga has refused to concede defeat, believing that the election of 2013 has been a ‘tainted process’. He said in a press conference shortly after the official announcement: “We will therefore, shortly move to court to challenge the outcome that the IEBC announced a few hours ago.”
He has submitted a number of complaints to the IEBC, but claims that they have been ignored. It will be these allegations that will most likely form the basis of his legal case in what he is calling “democracy on trial”.
However, Odinga calls on his supporters to respect the rule of law. “Any violence now will destroy this country for ever.” He also says that he has faith in the judiciary and will accept the ruling of the Supreme Court. Yet already reports are showing that Odinga supporters have been showing their anger in Kisumu, in the West of the country. A Reuters source claims they were chanting “No Raila, no peace”, but that police in riot gear have dispersed the crowd with teargas.
Odinga’s CORD coalition had raised their concerns during the counting process and had called for the tallying to be stopped. His running mate, Kalanzo Mosyuka, claimed that he had evidence of doctoring of the results, and he questioned the integrity of the process.
Kenyatta called for peace between the two parties, and pledged to work with all citizens of Kenya ‘regardless of political affiliation’.
Whilst much of the election was peaceful, 14 people were killed in Mombasa before polling stations opened on Monday. Ten police officers died after being ambushed and overpowered. The police have blamed the attacks on the Mombasa Republican Council (MRC), a separatist movement in the Coastal region. During his acceptance speech, Kenyatta thanked the police for their role in keeping the elections safe: “I would also like to acknowledge and thank the police and all security agencies for their diligence and commitment to ensuring security.”
One of Kenyatta’s first trips as president outside of Kenya will be at the International Criminal Court (ICC), as he faces charges of crimes against humanity, together with his running mate, William Ruto, over alleged engineering of 2007 post-election violence.
He consistently promised to appear before the ICC even if he is elected as a president, and he reiterated this during his speech. “We recognize and accept our international obligations and we will continue to co-operate with all nations and international institutions – in line with those obligations.”
Land disputes are a problem that date back to colonial times and have been at the centre of many of Kenya’s problems and has been the cause of thousands of people being displaced. Many people blames Jomo Kenyatta, Uhuru’s father, for these disputes, as his administration failed to address the issue. During Jomo Kenyatta’s presidency, much of the land on the coast ended up in the hands of the ruling elite.
However, Mr Kenyatta has promised reforms, despite allegations of impropriety: “To date, save for rumours that have been peddled around, I have not been accused of grabbing any land. I have dutifully revealed what I own in records I have filed with the Government as a requirement,” Uhuru Kenyatta said during the campaign.
Kenya has also fallen victim to numerous deadly terrorist attacks by the Somalia-based terrorist group al-Shabaab, as well as the attacks by the MRC. Kenyatta stressed that security remains one of the biggest challenges to the nation. “The incidents that took the lives of our officers are a reminder that security remains one of the biggest challenges to our nation.”
But despite Odinga’s legal challenge of the election, Kenyatta stressed in his speech that the elections were over and Kenya should return to normalcy. He also extended a token of peace to Odinga and his supporters. He emphasised that he was the president not just for those who voted for him, but for all Kenyans.