Kenyatta wins by hairline margin, still faces ICC | Africa | DW | 09.03.2013
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Kenyatta wins by hairline margin, still faces ICC

With Kenyatta having narrowly escaped a runoff, Odinga has announced his intention to contest the results. An ongoing trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC) is likely to make Kenyatta's work more difficult.

Uhuru Kenyatta as presidential candidate greets supporters beside running mate William Ruto

Uhuru Kenyatta as presidential candidate greets supporters beside running mate William Ruto

It's been a long week for Kenya: After casting their votes on Monday (04.03.2013), people throughout the country excitedly anticipated the results. The election commission, after several delays, has now, at last, released the information: It's Uhuru Kenyatta who will run the country for the next five years. Having secured 50.07 percent of the vote, he barely escaped a runoff.

Kenyatta had been in the lead since ballot-counting began, narrowly trailed by his main competitor, outgoing Prime Minister Raila Odinga. But announcement of the partial results was slow. "The votes were to be transmitted electronically," election observer Zakari Mbugwa told DW. "But there were many irregularities. So we had to be patient, until the ballots were counted by hand."

Questioning the results

Still, both national and international observers agree: Apart from the technical glitches, both ballot casting and counting went for the most part smoothly and according to the rules.

African Union election observer team head Joaquim Chissano, speaking to DW from Kenya, praised the high degree of cooperation among the different members of staff.

Kenya's outgoing Prime Minister Raila Odinga

Odinga's CORD movement said it will contest the election results

Meanwhile, politicians of Odinga's Coalition for Reform and Democracy (CORD) movement voiced their discontent. Immediately following the announcement of the final results, they vowed to contest the outcome. CORD on Thursday had already tried to have ballot-counting stopped.

CORD did accept the results of the senate elections without criticism; here, that coalition holds the majority of the vote.

International Criminal Court trial

Kenyatta's victory doesn't come as a surprise. Next to Odinga, the outgoing deputy prime minister had long been a frontrunner to replace outgoing President Mwai Kibaki.

But Kenyatta, whose father ruled the country from 1963 to 1978, will enter office with a burden: ongoing International Criminal Court proceedings against him. The charge is that during the post-election violence in 2007, Kenyatta helped plot murder, rape and forced displacements. Back then, too, Odinga had lost by a slim margin, while Kenyatta went on to support Kibaki.

Uhuru Kenyatta speaking with running mate William Ruto

Both Uhuru Kenyatta (right) and William Ruto face charges at the International Criminal Court in The Hague

It's the first time for a politician to be elected as president while an international court investigation is still underway. "This shows the great amount of trust that Kenyans have in Uhuru Kenyatta," said Yusuf Abubakar, a political observer. During his campaign, Kenyatta indicated that he was willing to cooperate with the Criminal Court in The Hague.

Still, that doesn't guarantee that Kenya be spared from international sanctions. "So far, Uhuru Kenyatta hasn't made any attempts to work together with the international community," Abubakar told DW.

The ongoing trial could even make it difficult though for Kenyatta to carry out his duties, as he's required to attend hearings in the Netherlands in person. To make the situation even more complicated, there's an ongoing trail against his future vice president, William Ruto, as well. Hearings are expected to begin May 28 of this year.

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