Uhuru Kenyatta, who is facing charges of crimes against humanity, provisionally won Kenya’s presidential race, as his main opponent said he’ll go to court to challenge the outcome.
Kenyatta, 51, had 50.03 percent of the total votes cast, while outgoing Prime Minister Raila Odinga, 68, tallied 43.28 percent with ballots from all 291 constituencies counted, according to data from the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission. The IEBC delayed the official announcement of results, which had been scheduled for 11 a.m. in the capital, Nairobi, without providing a reason.
Odinga “does not believe that the result the IEBC announced reflected the will of the people,” Salim Lone, his adviser, said in an e-mailed response to questions today. “He will challenge the IEBC verdict in court.”
Accusations by Odinga that he was robbed of victory in the last presidential election in December 2007 sparked two months of clashes that left more than 1,100 people dead and another 350,000 homeless. The unrest curbed growth in East Africa’s largest economy to 1.5 percent in 2008 from 7 percent a year earlier and disrupted key trade routes for landlocked neighbors including Uganda and Rwanda.
Economic growth has attracted greater outside interest in the Nairobi Securities Exchange. Foreign investors traded almost half of all shares in 2012 compared with about 10 percent five years earlier. Kenya is a regional hub for companies including Google Inc., Toyota Motor Corp. (7203), and Visa Inc. (V)
The Nairobi Securities Exchange’s All Share Index (NSEASI) advanced for an eighth day yesterday, extending its advance to 18 percent so far this year, the second-best performance in sub-Saharan Africa, after Ghana. The shilling gained for a second day, advancing less than 0.1 percent to 86.20 per dollar.
The U.S. Embassy in Nairobi said today there may be a “strong public reaction” to the election outcome and advised its citizens to avoid common gathering places and protest sites including the city’s central business district, stadiums, large parks and slum areas.
Kenyatta is accused by the International Criminal Court of crimes against humanity for his role in organizing clashes after the 2007 election, a charge he denies. The Hague-based court on March 7 postponed the starting date of his trial by three months to July 9, and yesterday delayed the trial of running mate William Ruto’s case until May 28. Ruto is facing similar charges of organizing attacks.
A candidate needs 50 percent plus a single vote, and a quarter of support from 24 of 47 counties, to avoid a runoff. Kenyatta has about 4,100 votes more than needed, while the IEBC has yet to say whether Kenyatta met the second requirement. A runoff would pit Kenyatta, the son of the country’s first president, against Odinga, son of its first vice president.
Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement rejects the IEBC’s results because according to tallies by the party’s officials, 170,000 votes in at least 120 constituencies were unaccounted for, Secretary-General Anyang’ Nyong’o told reporters today.
Kenyatta and Odinga promised to boost investment in expanding infrastructure and bolstering agricultural output to help expand the country’s $34 billion economy and create a million new jobs annually. The International Monetary Fund says Kenya’s economy may expand as much as 6 percent if peace prevails, compared with an estimated 5 percent in 2012.
Kenyatta is the son of Kenya’s first post-independence president, Jomo Kenyatta, and his given name, Uhuru, means freedom in the Swahili language. His family owns land holdings, Brookside Dairy Ltd., which also has units in Tanzania and Uganda, and has stakes in the K24 television station, Commercial Bank of Africa Ltd. and other companies, according to Forbes magazine.
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