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Kenya's Odinga accepts defeat

March 30, 2013

Defeated presidential candidate Raila Odinga has accepted a ruling from Kenya's Supreme Court upholding Uhuru Kenyatta's victory in general elections. Kenyan police are on alert for unrest following the court's decision.

A general view shows the proceedings at the Supreme Court in Kenya's capital Nairobi March 30, 2013. Kenya's Supreme Court ruled on Saturday Uhuru Kenyatta was elected president fairly, unanimously rejecting a challenge from defeated candidate Raila Odinga that the vote was marred by rigging and technical problems. REUTERS/Noor Khamis (KENYA - Tags: POLITICS ELECTIONS)
Image: Reuters

Odinga told a press conference on Saturday that he accepted the ruling of the Supreme Court, which had come just a few hours earlier.

"The court has now spoken," Odinga said. "I wish the president-elect, honorable Uhuru Kenyatta, and his team well."

He added that he regretted that some of the evidence his team presented had been disallowed, saying "in the end Kenyans lost their right to know what indeed happened."

Deadly violence

Despite Odinga's acceptance of the ruling, police in Kenya have clashed with some of his supporters who are angry over the decision. In Kisumu, two young men participating in riots were fatally shot, although it is unclear by whom.

Odinga and Kenyatta had both appealed for calm ahead of the court's decision and had said they would accept the ruling.

Street protests following the last election in 2007 descended into tribal violence that claimed more than 1,200 lives. Following that poll, Odinga refused to seek arbitration over the election results, which many said had been flawed.

This year, Odinga's lawyer, George Oraro, had called upon the court to cancel results from voting areas that appeared to show problems.

Kenya's chief justice Willy Mutunga said on Saturday that the six-member court unanimously ruled that the election of Uhuru Kenyatta had been conducted in a "free, fair, transparent and credible" manner.

"It is the decision that the third and fourth respondents were validly elected," Chief Justice Willy Mutunga said in court, referring to Kenyatta and his running mate and deputy president William Ruto.

Voting discrepancies

Odinga was Kenyatta's main contender in the March 4 vote and had alleged that the result was affected by both technical problems and vote rigging.

Closing arguments in the court on Friday highlighted the findings of a court report, which found peculiarities in the partial recounting of votes at five out of 22 polling stations. It was alleged that discrepancies were found in scores of other locations.

Kenya's Deputy Prime Minister and presidential candidate Uhuru Kenyatta prepares to cast his ballot inside a polling station in Kenya's town of Gatundu (Photo: REUTERS/Marko Djurica (KENYA - Tags: POLITICS ELECTIONS)
Kenyatta was declared the winnerImage: Reuters

Kenyatta appeared to have won by a wafer-thin margin with 50.07 percent of the vote, barely surpassing the 50 percent mark out of 12.3 million votes cast.

Kenyatta faces charges at the International Criminal Court in The Hague over allegations that he helped incite the post-election violence in 2007.

Kenya adopted a new constitution in 2010 in an effort to avoid the post-election violence of the past.

mz/hc (AFP, AP, Reuters)