Kenya’s incumbent, President Uhuru Kenyatta, has been declared the winner by the country’s electoral body for the just concluded General Election.
While announcing the results, Wafula Chebukati, the chairman of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, said that President Kenyatta garnered 54.27 percent of the ballots cast. His rival, veteran opposition leader Raila Odinga, got 44.74 percent. The final tally put President Kenyatta and his deputy, William Ruto, in the lead with a margin of over 1.4 million votes.
According to Kenyan law, since Kenyatta received more than 50 percent of the votes, the country will not go into a second round of voting. The winner is also required to get 25 percent of votes in at least half of all 47 counties in order to avoid a runoff.
In his acceptance speech, President Kenyatta reached out to supporters of the opposition and called for unity among all Kenyans, for they all are citizens of the same republic.
“Let us all engage, dialogue, and build our country together. Elections come and go, but Kenya is here to stay. Let us reach out to one another,” he said.
Congratulatory messages started streaming in from various leaders from across the region immediately after Mr. Kenyatta was declared the winner. Among the first to congratulate him was Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame, who was also re-elected a week ago. In his message, President Kagame reiterated the need for the two to continue working together in strengthening the East African Community. Other messages arrived from President Pierre Nkurunziza of Burundi, President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, and Tanzania’s Opposition leader, Edward Lowassa.
Although Mr. Kenyatta continued receiving congratulatory messages, his rival, Mr. Odinga, and his team rejected the results even before they were declared. Odinga’s team called the process a “charade”.
Mr. Odinga’s coalition, the National Super Alliance, refused to take part in the announcement of the election results on Friday evening, accusing the commission of releasing the outcome before addressing its concerns.
James Orengo, the coalition’s Chief Agent for the general election, termed the election process a “charade” and a “disaster”. “You do not just hold an election for the sake of it. The election is not about announcing winners and losers,” he stated. Orengo also expressed disappointment in and questioned the credentials of international observers including former South African President Thabo Mbeki, former Ghanaian President John Mahama, and former US Secretary of State, John Kerry.
Various international observers described the election process as free, fair, and peaceful. They called upon candidates to respect the final outcome announced by the electoral body and resolve any poll disputes through legal channels.
More than 400 international election monitors including officials from African Union, COMESA, the United States, and the EU were deployed across the country to monitor voting, in addition to the tallying process and part of the post-election period.
John Kerry, who served as an election observer for the Carter Center, said on Thursday that while there were “little aberrations here and there”, the election was not rigged. He added that the electoral commission was verifying electronic online reporting with the use of physical ballot forms from polling stations.
On the 8th of August, more than 15 million Kenyans went to the polls to elect a new president, as well as new legislative and gubernatorial seats. Vote counting and tallying started immediately that evening, and the results started being transmitted electronically. However, that night the opposition questioned the reliability of the votes, saying hackers had interfered with the voting system.
As various Kenyans celebrate the re-election of President Kenyatta, it is still unknown what action the opposition will take after casting doubts and refusing to partake in the announcement of results.