Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta appears to have won the presidential election in the first round with the slimmest of majorities, as Kenya’s electoral commission prepared today to announce the final results of the nation’s presidential election.
Final numbers showed Mr Kenyatta with 50.03% of the vote. He needs more than 50% to win outright and avoid a runoff with Prime Minister Raila Odinga, who had 43.3%.
Mr Kenyatta, the son of Kenya’s founding president, is indicted for crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court (ICC) and if he becomes president, problems with Western allies are expected.
This did not worry Mr Kenyatta’s supporters who are jubilant, though there appeared to be at least an outside possibility that the election commission could announce revised figures that would put Mr Kenyatta back under 50%.
Kelvin Mwangi, a taxi conductor, was one of several Kenyatta supporters who huddled around a taxi in discussion of their candidate’s win. There were many more similar groups in the distance, and around Nairobi, and they were more likely to be Kikuyus celebrating – as well as Luos coming to terms with Mr Odinga’s loss.
“I feel great because we have won this election,” said Mr Mwangi, who like Kenyatta is an ethnic Kikuyu. “Uhuru sold his policies to young people while Raila was busy criticising him.”
The election commission said it would make a formal announcement of the winner. The scheduled announcement was more than an hour late as of midday today in Kenya.
Eliud Owalo, Mr Odinga’s chief campaign manager, said the prime minister would not concede defeat “because the process was fraudulent”. He did not elaborate.
Though Mr Kenyatta appears to have just barely squeaked by the 50 % hurdle, he solidly beat Mr Odinga, one of eight candidates. That fact may help prevent the violence that exploded in Kenya after its last presidential vote, in 2007, when more than 1,000 people were killed.
The final provisional figures showed Mr Kenyatta finishing with 6,173,433 votes out of 12,338,667 cast. Mr Odinga had 5,340,546 votes.
A win by Mr Kenyatta could greatly affect Kenya’s relations with the West. Mr Kenyatta faces charges at the ICC for his alleged role in directing some of Kenya’s 2007 post-election violence. His running mate, William Ruto, faces similar charges.
Francis Eshitemi, an Odinga supporter Nairobi’s largest slum, Kibera, said it was clear his candidate had lost in a free and fair election and that he expected him to concede.
“The problem is that Raila doesn’t have the numbers. There were a few irregularities, but the gap between Raila and Uhuru is big,” he said.
Isaac Khayiya, another Odinga supporter, said: “This time we want post-election peace, not war. We will be the ones to suffer if there is violence. For them – Uhuru, Ruto, Odinga – they have security and they are rich.”
The United States has warned of “consequences” if Mr Kenyatta wins, as have several European countries. Britain, which ruled Kenya until the early 1960s, has said they would have only essential contact with the Kenyan government if Mr Kenyatta is president.
Mr Odinga’s camp has indicated legal challenges could be filed. Monday’s presidential vote proceeded mostly peacefully, but the counting process has been stymied by a myriad of break-downs and errors.
That the winner was quietly revealed overnight – at about 2.35am local time - came as somewhat of a surprise. At about midnight the electoral commission said it would give a formal announcement of the winner at 11am local time today. Observers believed that the decision was made in part not reveal a winner overnight, something that could stir suspicions and put security forces at a disadvantage if rioting broke out.