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Kenya Shilling Strengthens After Peaceful Presidential Elections

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March 11 (Bloomberg) -- Kenya’s shilling advanced after peaceful presidential elections in East Africa’s biggest economy.

The currency gained 0.8 percent to 85.53 per dollar by 12:39 p.m. in Nairobi, heading for the highest level since March 5, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Kenya held its presidential vote on March 4, where Uhuru Kenyatta, who is preparing for trial at the International Criminal Court, won by 50.07 percent of the ballots cast, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission said on March 9. Outgoing Prime Minister Raila Odinga, whose dispute of election results in 2007 triggered two months of ethnic clashes that left more than 1,100 people dead, got 43.3 percent.

“The shilling has gained against the dollar, reflecting the dividend of peaceful elections,” Raphael Agung, a senior trader at Nairobi-based Commercial Bank of Africa Ltd., said by phone. “The markets will recalibrate based on litigation risks associated with the plan to contest the presidential results at the Supreme Court”.

Odinga, 68, who claimed he was cheated of the win in the last election by President Mwai Kibaki, will move to court to challenge the elections outcome.

“We will therefore shortly move to court to challenge the outcome,” Odinga told reporters on March 9, immediately the official results were released. “Any violence now could destroy this nation forever. It will not serve anyone’s interest.”

“In the medium term the markets will remain choppy as the Supreme Court decides on the case,” Agung said.

The Supreme Court is expected to rule on the case within 14 days after the filling of the petition, according to the Kenya constitution.

The International Monetary Fund said Kenya’s economy may expand 5.5 percent to 6 percent this year, as long as peaceful elections show stability for investors.

Uganda’s currency traded unchanged at 2,653 per dollar, while the Tanzanian shilling appreciated less than 0.1 percent to 1,623 per dollar.

To contact the reporter on this story: Johnstone Ole Turana in Nairobi at jturana@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Antony Sguazzin at asguazzin@bloomberg.net

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