Kenya faces further poll challenges as divisions remain

President Uhuru Kenyatta, winner of the elections with 98 percent of the vote, says he expects victory to be challenged.

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    Uhuru Kenyatta was announced winner of the repeat presidential election on October 30 [Thomas Mukoya/Reuters]
    Uhuru Kenyatta was announced winner of the repeat presidential election on October 30 [Thomas Mukoya/Reuters]

    Nairobi, Kenya - The presidential poll rerun was meant to bring an end to the political crisis that has gripped Kenya since August but two days after the result was announced divisions appear to run deeper than ever.

    President Uhuru Kenyatta, who was declared winner of the poll with 98 percent of the vote, said during his victory speech on Monday that he expected his victory to be challenged.

    "My victory today is likely to be subjected to a constitutional test through the courts. And as I have demonstrated repeatedly, I will submit to this constitutional path no matter its outcomes," Kenyatta, the son of the country's founding father, said.

    Kenyatta was also declared the winner in August's poll, with 54 percent of the vote. The president's victory was challenged in the Supreme Court, which then annulled the result due to "illegalities and irregularities" in the voting process.

    His closest challenger in that poll, Raila Odinga, withdrew from the rerun, claiming the vote would not be free and fair.

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    Odinga, who despite withdrawing from the poll got 0.9 percent of Thursday's vote, said opposition demands for reforms at the electoral commission had not been met. Odinga has claimed Thursday's election was a "sham".

    "This election must not stand. If allowed to stand, it will make a complete mockery of elections and might well be the end of the ballot as a means of instituting government in Kenya. It will completely destroy public confidence in the vote," Odinga told reporters on Tuesday.

    In early October, the opposition leader said he would not go to court to challenge the result.

    Odinga, a former prime minister and son of the country's first vice president, has vowed to embark on a political campaign to "restore democracy in the country". He has called for the establishment of a "people's assembly", economic boycott and picketing, until fresh elections were held in the country.

    At least two petitions are currently in the court challenging the validity of Thursday's poll. The Supreme Court is expected to hear the cases in the coming weeks.

    Endless court cases, inflammatory rhetoric on the campaign trails and a poll boycott have left the country more divided than ever.

    "Elections are meant to be a nation-building exercise. They are meant to bring people closer. But this is not case here. The country is more divided than ever," John Githongo, Kenya's former anti-corruption chief, told Al Jazeera.

    Businesses are happy to see an end to the political gridlock that has chased away investors and choked the country's economy.

    "The market is on its knees. Investors don't want to put their money in a place where there are uncertainties and where there is political violence. The sooner the political crisis comes to an end the better for the business community and the country," Dismas Mokua, a political risk analyst, told Al Jazeera.

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    Polls were boycotted in 25 constituencies in the western part of the country, but the electoral board said the boycotts did not affect the outcome of the vote. More than 50 people have been killed in political violence since the August election was annulled.

    Opposition strongholds in western Kenya are still tense, with a heavy security presence. Analysts say only the courts can settle this crisis once and for all.

    "Odinga will not accept Kenyatta won the election. Kenyatta will not accept fresh election. The court needs to bring this to an end," Mokua said.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera News


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