Nairobi: Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta has reportedly won the country`s presidential elections by slim margin defeating Prime Minister Rohila Odinga. The Election Commission declared that Kenyatta won 50.03 per cent of the votes, 4099 votes more than 12.3 million cast, as per news agency report.
The results showed that Odinga has managed to win only 43.3 percent of the votes.
A win by Kenyatta could greatly affect Kenya`s relations with the West. Kenyatta faces charges at the International Criminal Courtfor his alleged role in directing some of Kenya`s 2007 post-election violence. His running mate, William Ruto, faces similar charges.
The US has warned of "consequences" if Kenyatta, the son of Kenya`s founding father, wins, as have several European countries. Britain, which ruled Kenya up until the early 1960s, has said they would have only essential contact with the Kenyan government if Kenyatta is president.
That the winner was quietly revealed overnight — at about 2:35 am 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 11 am Kenya time (3 am EST) Saturday. 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.
In order to win outright, Kenyatta must not only get more than 50 percent of the vote but also must garner at least 25 percent of the vote in 24 out of Kenya`s 47 provinces. Because of the way the election commission announced results, it was difficult to immediately determine if Kenyatta passed that bar.
Diplomats said they believed Odinga was not likely to protest the vote in a manner that would increase the chances of violence, but rather honor his pledge to respect the result and petition the courts with any grievances. Odinga scheduled a news conference for later Saturday morning.
The Kenyan capital has been sleepy since Monday`s vote for president, the country`s first election since its 2007 vote sparked tribe-on-tribe violence that killed more than 1,000 people. But security forces in riot gear took to the streets Friday in regions of the city that could turn tumultuous after results are announced.
The prime minister`s supporters took to the streets in 2007 after Odinga said he had been cheated. In Kibera, Nairobi`s largest slum and a bastion of Odinga support, many believe this year`s results have been rigged as well.
The election outcome is being closely watched by the US and Europe. The US Embassy in Kenya is larger than any American mission in Africa, underscoring Kenya`s strong role in US foreign policy. The US also has military forces stationed here near the border with Somalia. Kenya, the lynchpin of East Africa`s economy, plays a vital security role in the fight against Somali militants.
Kenyatta`s International Criminal Court trial is set to begin in July and could take years, meaning that if he wins he may have to rule Kenya from The Hague, Netherlands, for much of his five-year term. Another option is, as president, to decide not to attend the trial. But that decision would trigger an international arrest warrant and spark even more damaging effects for Kenya`s standing with the West.
Kenyatta has promised to report to The Hague, even if he wins the presidency. The ICC on Friday delayed the trial of Ruto until late May.
Odinga`s camp may have grounds to file legal challenges after myriad failures in the systems Kenya`s electoral commission set up.