Kenya court upholds Uhuru Kenyatta’s poll win

Supporters of runner-up Raila Odinga protest court decision that said March 4 presidential polls were fair and credible.

Kenya’s Supreme Court has upheld the result of the country’s March 4 presidential poll, won by Uhuru Kenyatta sparking protests by the supporters of runner-up Raila Odinga.

The six judges of Kenya’s top court dashed Odinga’s last hopes of victory by unanimously ruling that the March 4 election had been fair and credible and that Kenyatta and his running mate had been “validly elected”.

“The presidential election … was conducted in a free, fair, transparent and credible manner in compliance with the provisions of the constitution and all relevant provisions of the law,” Willy Mutunga, the chief justice, said on Saturday.

Clashes immediately erupted between youths and the police in Kisumu, the biggest town in Odinga’s western region stronghold, leaving at least two people with gunshot wounds, AFP news agency reported.

The protestors were initially dispersed by the police but they then reassembled later in the evening to hurl stones at cars and motorbikes, injuring several people.

The AFP reported that shops were looted and passers-by robbed as sporadic gunshots rang out.

Police in the capital, Nairobi, used tear gas to disperse supporters of Odinga who were protesting in the city centre.

Incidents and tensions were also reported in early evening in slum areas traditionally loyal to Odinga. Nairobi’s police chief said reinforcements had been sent to those parts of town. He spoke of “clashes” but did not elaborate.

Accepting defeat

The country’s outgoing president had called for calm before Saturday’s decision, which confirmed the victory of Kenya’s richest man Kenyatta, and precluded the possibility of a run-off vote.

Odinga, a former prime minister, and civil society groups had said the March 4 poll was marred by technical problems and widespread rigging.

He accepted the court’s ruling, saying “The court has now spoken.”

“I wish the president-elect, honourable Uhuru Kenyatta, and his team well,” he said.

The announcement of his defeat in the last elections in 2007, when he ran against the now outgoing president Mwai Kibaki, led to Kenya’s worst violence since Independence, with more than 1,100 dead and several hundred thousand forced to flee their homes.

Saturday’s verdict – following a week of hearings – means that Kenyatta will be sworn in as president on April 9, reported Al Jazeera’s Nazanine Moshiri from the Kenyan capital Nairobi.

Kenyatta and his running mate William Ruto both face trial at the International Criminal Court in The Hague for crimes against humanity over their alleged role in planning the 2007-2008 post-election violence. Both deny the charges.

Ruto’s trial is due to begin in late May, and Kenyatta’s in July. Kenyatta has pledged that he will face the charges at The Hague.

Vote flawed

Salim Lone, an adviser to Odinga, said that while the prime minister accepted the ruling, he was still concerned that the vote was flawed.

“The PM has reaffirmed his conviction that the election was deeply flawed, and that the struggle to bring transparency and accountability to the electoral process would be a central priority in his drive to change the nature of Kenya’s politics,” Lone told Al Jazeera.

Jubilant Kenyatta supporters flooded the streets of Nairobi’s business district, honking horns, blowing the noisy plastic horns known as a vuvuzelas and chanting slogans.

In a televised address to the nation, Kenyatta thanked Odinga for wishing him well.

“I want to assure all Kenyans … that my government will work with and serve all Kenyans without any discrimination whatsoever,” Kenyatta said.

The White House, Britain, France and the European Commission all congratulated Kenyatta on his victory.

The president-elect comfortably beat Odinga in terms of votes won, with 50.07 percent versus 43.28 percent, but only narrowly avoided a run-off after winning just 8,100 votes more than the 50 percent needed to be declared the winner outright.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies