Kenya's electoral commission has declared Uhuru Kenyatta the winner of a hotly contested presidential election. Defeated contender Raila Odinga has rejected the outcome and said he would challenge it in court.
Deputy Prime Minister Kenyatta barely avoided a runoff vote, winning 50.07 percent of ballots cast, according to Kenya's election commission.
"I therefore declare Uhuru Kenyatta the duly elected president of the Republic of Kenya," the chairman of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, Issack Hassan, announced. Kenyatta is the son of Jomo Kenyatta, Kenya's first president.
According to Kenya's electoral law, a candidate must win more than 50 percent of the vote in order to avoid a second round.
Former prime minister and defeated opponent for the presidency, Raila Odinga rejected the outcome: "We will therefore shortly move to court to challenge the
outcome that the IEBC (Independent Electoral and Boundaries
Commission) announced a few hours ago," he said.
But Odinga called on supporters to avoid violence "Any violence now could destroy this nation forever, but it would not serve anyone's interests," he said.
The official result was originally scheduled to be announced on Wednesday, but the failure of a new computerized voting system forced election officials to deliver the ballots to the capital Nairobi, where they had to be counted by hand.
Fraud appeal rejected
Odinga's team had asked for the vote counting to be stopped, accusing Kenyatta of vote fraud. But a three-judge panel rejected the appeal, saying that only the Supreme Court had jurisdiction over the matter. And international election observers have said that the election was conducted transparently and fairly.
Kenyatta's victory could complicate Nairobi's relations with Western countries. He is wanted by the International Criminal Court in The Hague on charges of helping to instigate post-election violence in 2007 that killed at least 1,000 people. Kenya is now the second African country to have a head of state wanted by the ICC, the other being Sudan.
Kenya is an important Western ally, contributing to the fight against Islamist militants in East Africa, particularly in neighboring Somalia.
slk/rc (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)