Protests after Kenya election verdict

Al Jazeera

President-elect Kenyatta calls for unity after supporters of rival candidate protest court decision that upheld his win.

Supporters of Raila Odinga, the runner-up in the just concluded Kenya presidential elections, have protested against a decision by the country’s highest court that dismissed an opposition petition challenging Uhuru Kenyatta’s victory.

Clashes immediately erupted on Saturday between youths and the police in Kisumu, the biggest town in Odinga’s western region stronghold, leaving at least two people dead.

The protesters 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.

President-elect Kenyatta has called on Kenyans to unite. “Let us all renew our sense of nationhood, and let us re-dedicate ourselves to building a united country at peace with itself.”

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.

Kenya’s Supreme Court on Saturday upheld the result of the country’s March 4 presidential poll, won by Kenyatta, the son of founding president Mzee Jomo Kenyatta and country’s richest person.

The six judges of Kenya’s top court dashed Odinga’s last hopes of victory by unanimously ruling that the 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.

Accepting defeat

Odinga, a former prime minister, and civil society groups had said the March 4 poll was marred by technical problems and widespread rigging.
Follow our in-depth spotlight coverage of the vote

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.

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.