Kenyatta Named Winner of Kenyan Vote Rerun

Updated on
  • Incumbent won 98.3 percent of vote, electoral commission says
  • Opposition alliance calls for fresh elections within 90 days

People watch a live broadcast of the re-election results in Kisumu on Oct. 30, 2017.

Photographer: Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP/Getty Images

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta was declared the landslide winner of a chaotic election rerun that his main rival Raila Odinga rejected as a sham.

Kenyatta, 56, won 7.48 million votes, or 98.3 percent of the total cast on Oct. 26, Wafula Chebukati, the chairman of the Independent Electoral & Boundaries Commission, said Monday in Nairobi, the capital. The turnout was 38.8 percent, down from 79 percent in an Aug. 8 contest that also handed victory to Kenyatta and the Supreme Court nullified because proper voting procedures weren’t followed -- a decision that’s unprecedented in Africa.

The yield on the nation’s dollar bonds due 2024 fell the most in almost three months.

“I am satisfied that we were able to meet the conditions that enabled the commission to deliver what to us, and I believe to all Kenyans and observers, is a free, fair and credible election,” Chebukati said. “The commission ensured that everything required of us by law was put in place for the conduct of the election.”

The results declaration doesn’t signal an end to a political crisis that’s dragged down growth in East Africa’s largest economy and scarred its reputation as one of the continent’s top investment destinations, with the outcome likely to be challenged again in court. Odinga, who boycotted the rerun after the electoral commission refused to heed his demands to change personnel and voting procedures, has called for a national defiance campaign against what he describes as an illegitimate administration and another vote within 90 days.

Still, Kenyatta’s win was a relief to bond investors, who sent the yield on the nation’s debt tumbling 15 basis points on Monday to 6.17 percent.

Violent Clashes

About 78 people have died in election-related violence since the initial vote, mostly in clashes between the security forces and opposition supporters. Ethnic tensions have also flared between members of Odinga’s Luo community and Kenyatta’s Kikuyu group, raising fears of a repetition of the more widespread violence that ensued after a contested 2007 vote and claimed at least 1,100 lives.

An opposition supporter in front of a burning barricade in Nairobi on Oct. 26.

Photographer: Luis Tato/AFP via Getty Images

Violent protests forced the electoral commission to cancel the ballot in the western Nyanza region -- a move that may call the vote’s legitimacy into question. Legal challenges to the outcome must be lodged within seven days and the Supreme Court will have 14 days to make a ruling. Odinga may make an announcement on the way forward later today.

Conflicting Laws

While the constitution states that the election must be held in every constituency, the electoral laws allow for tallies from areas to be excluded if they won’t affect the final result, said Karim Anjarwalla, managing partner at law firm Anjarwalla & Khanna in Nairobi.“It is too early to say whether a future petition, if filed, may be successful,” he said by email.

Kenyatta said 90 percent of those who who voted for him in the first round did so in the second, proving the validity of his initial victory.

“I know my victory today is just part of the process that is likely to once again be subjected to a constitutional tests through our courts,” he said in his acceptance speech at the national results center. “I will submit myself to this constitutional path no matter its outcome.”

Opposition Plans

While Kenyatta said he would only consider entering into dialogue with the opposition after the legal process had been concluded, Odinga, 72, a former prime minister who failed to secure the presidency in elections in 1997, 2007 and 2013, has said the only thing he’s willing to discuss is a date for a fresh vote.

“Kenyans are tired of this illegitimate regime,” Odinga said in an interview with the South African Broadcasting Corp. “We do not want to institutionalize election-rigging. The moment people lose faith in the electoral process then anarchy becomes the order of the day.”

Read more on Kenya’s election controversy in this QuickTake Q&A

The standoff has unnerved investors, with the yield on the government’s international bonds due in 2024 climbing 25 basis points to 6.27 percent since the election was annulled on Sept. 1. The Kenya Private Sector Alliance, the main business lobby group, estimates the prolonged unrest and political uncertainty has cost the economy 700 billion shillings ($6.75 billion).

Many of Odinga’s supporters in his stronghold of Kisumu say they are determined to get rid of Kenyatta no matter how long it takes.

“All we want is fairness,” said Ed Okoth, 31, a shoe salesman in the city, about 264 kilometers (164 miles) west of Nairobi. “Raila is doing the right thing. I am willing to suffer economically. I still continue to support the protesters. We are fighting for the generations to come, we are fighting for the ideal of democracy.”

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