Uhuru Kenyatta has fairly won the country’s presidential election, Kenya’s Supreme Court has ruled today rejecting several petitions challenging the vote.
Chief Justice Willy Mutunga announced the decision, saying the poll was free and fair.
The appeal was lodged by PM Raila Odinga, Uhuru Kenyatta’s main rival in the presidential poll this month.
Kenya’s Supreme Court has upheld Uhuru Kenyatta’s presidential election victory
Official results said Uhuru Kenyatta beat Raila Odinga by 50.07% to 43.28%, avoiding a run-off by just 8,100 votes.
There is tight security at the Supreme Court. Violence after a disputed election in 2007 left more than 1,200 people dead.
The presidential, legislative and municipal elections held on March 4 were the first since the 2007 poll.
Uhuru Kenyatta and his running mate, William Ruto, are facing trial on charges of crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court (ICC) for allegedly fuelling unrest after that election. They deny the charges.
There was tight security for the court decision, with all roads leading to the building closed.
Police chief David Kimaiyo warned on Friday that unrest would not be tolerated.
He said: “We have reports indicating that some parties have organized their supporters to converge outside the Supreme Court during delivery of the ruling, and we will not allow any such gatherings.
“There will be tight security in all parts of the country, we will not tolerate any form of violence.”
Outgoing President Mwai Kibaki has urged people to stay calm and accept the result, but much will depend on Kenyans’ faith in their newly reformed judiciary.
Lawyers for Raila Odinga said their petition to the Supreme Court included allegations of vote manipulation, as well as problems with the registration of voters and an electronic vote counting mechanism.
On Friday, the Supreme Court reviewed recounts from 22 polling stations. Both sides claimed that the recounts vindicated their position.
Uhuru Kenyatta has called the election, which was largely conducted peacefully, a “triumph of democracy”.
The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has insisted that the vote was credible, despite technical failures with an electronic voter ID system and the vote counting mechanism.
International observers said the poll was largely free, fair and credible, and that the electoral commission had conducted its business in an open and transparent manner.
The ballot count in Kenya’s presidential elections has been rigged, says the running mate of Prime Minister Raila Odinga, who is trailing behind his rival, Uhuru Kenyatta.
“We have evidence the results we have received have been doctored,” said Raila Odinga’s running mate Kalonzo Musyoka.
He said the vote count should be stopped but added that his comments were not a call for protest.
Counting has been severely delayed after the electronic system crashed.
Following the latest allegation, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) is holding a closed-door meeting with various high commissioners and ambassadors.
The chairman of the IEBC is due to address journalists later on Thursday.
More than 1,000 people were killed in the violence which broke out in 2007-08 after Raila Odinga claimed he had been cheated of victory by supporters of President Mwai Kibaki, who is stepping down after two terms in office.
Uhuru Kenyatta, who backed Mwai Kibaki, is due to stand trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC) next month, accused of organizing attacks on members of ethnic groups seen as supporters of Raila Odinga. He denies the charges.
Kalonzo Musyoka said the failure of the electronic vote transmission system earlier this week had allowed results to be rigged.
“We as a coalition take the position the national vote-tallying process lacks integrity and has to be stopped and re-started using primary documents from the polling stations,” he said on Thursday.
But Kalonzo Musyoka also called on Kenyans to remain calm.
“It is not a call to mass action. We are committed as a coalition to the principle of the rule of law.”
The ballot count in Kenya’s presidential elections has been rigged, says the running mate of Prime Minister Raila Odinga
Meanwhile, senior members of Raila Odinga’s coalition have given further details about their allegations, saying that the number of ballots counted exceeded that of votes cast.
The long delays, and these new accusations are increasing the tension surrounding the polls.
However, until they see comprehensive evidence, many Kenyans will remain skeptical.
Following glitches with hi-tech voting and counting systems, the vote-tallying process was started again from scratch, and by hand, on Wednesday.
Results were only being announced after the ballots had been physically delivered to election headquarters in Nairobi, rather than being filed electronically.
The latest figures indicate Uhuru Kenyatta has maintained his lead over Raila Odinga, with 2.5 million (53%) votes to 1.9 million (42%) – as originally indicated.
However, the new tally shows that the number of rejected ballots, which have become a major bone contention, has sharply come down.
In the initial count, some 300,000 votes – about 6% – were disqualified for various reasons.
But according to latest official results, this figure has now come down to about 40,000. While the reason for the drop remains unclear, some observers said that election officials were being too strict first time round.
Uhuru Kenyatta’s Jubilee coalition has rejected calls for some of these ballots to be included, as requested by Raila Odinga’s allies.
Counting the rejected votes would greatly add to the number needed for a candidate to break the 50% threshold for a first-round win and increase the prospect of a runoff due within a month.
The push for these ballots’ inclusion was motivated by a “sinister and suspect logic”, said Charity Ngilu, a senior member of Uhuru Kenyatta’s coalition.
The camp also accused the British High Commissioner in Kenya of “canvassing to have rejected votes tallied” in an attempt to deny Uhuru Kenyatta outright victory in Monday’s vote.
The UK Foreign Office said claims of British interference were “entirely false and misleading”.
Correspondents say one of the reasons for the many rejected votes is that Kenyans had, for the first time, six ballot papers to fill in, which may have caused confusion.
The winning candidate must get more than 50% of the total votes cast and at least 25% of votes in half of the 47 counties. The latter was a requirement introduced in the new constitution to make sure the new president wins with wide support, rather than only with the backing of voters in his regional and ethnic strongholds.
If there is no clear winner, a second round of voting will take place, probably on April 11.
Son of Kenya’s first President Jomo Kenyatta
Due to stand trial at ICC in April accused of organizing violence in last election
His running mate, William Ruto, also accused
Both deny the charges
From Kikuyu ethnic group – Kenya’s largest at 22% of population and powerful economically
Kikuyus and William Ruto’s Kalenjin community saw fierce clashes after 2007 poll
Currently deputy prime minister
Son of first Vice-President Jaramogi Oginga Odinga
Distant relative of Barack Obama
Believes he was cheated of victory in last election
From Luo community in western Kenya – 11% of population.
Some Luos feel they have been marginalized by central government
Third time running for president
Currently prime minister under power-sharing deal to end violence last time
Kenya is voting in an election that observers describe as the most important in the country’s history.
It is the first time a vote has taken place under Kenyan new constitution, designed to prevent a repeat of violence that followed the 2007 polls.
More than 1,000 people died in widespread ethnic violence when supporters of rival candidates clashed.
Despite appeals for calm, at least four police officers died when they were attacked near Mombasa on Monday.
At least six other people – including several attackers – are also reported to have died in the assault in the early hours in Changamwe, half an hour’s drive from the centre of Mombasa.
Reports from around the country suggested long lines of voters were forming before polling stations opened.
Some technical difficulties were reported with newly instituted biometric voting kits – designed to counter claims of vote-rigging and long delays in announcing poll results that were partly blamed for the violence last time.
Kenyans will choose a president, members of parliament and senators, county governors and members of 47 county assemblies.
Eight presidential candidates are standing but it is essentially a two-horse race pitting Prime Minister Raila Odinga against Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta.
Some observers say they are particularly concerned about violence erupting should neither of the two frontrunners poll more than 50% – in which case the vote will go to a run-off, probably on April 11.
Uhuru Kenyatta, son of Kenya’s founding father Jomo Kenyatta, is due to stand trial at the International Criminal Court for his alleged role in orchestrating the violence five years ago.
His running mate, William Ruto, has also been indicted by the court. Both men deny any wrongdoing.
Kenya is voting in an election that observers describe as the most important in the country’s history
The post-election violence of 2007-8 broke out after Raila Odinga claimed he had been cheated of victory by supporters of President Mwai Kibaki.
Supporters of the rival candidates, from different ethnic groups, took up arms against each other.
Raila Odinga later joined a government of national unity under a peace deal.
In the run-up to Monday’s vote, President Mwai Kibaki – who is not seeking re-election – urged Kenyans to vote peacefully and for the losers to accept defeat.
“Cast your vote and keep the peace,” he said in a televised address to the nation on Friday.
“Let us send a clear message to the world that our democracy has come of age. A peaceful vote is a vote for a secure, prosperous and stable Kenya.”
Candidates have also promised to respect the result and urged their supporters to refrain from violence.
Clerics across Kenya also gave sermons dedicated to peace on Sunday.
The police, however, have warned of conspiracies to cause chaos – in Nairobi and elsewhere – and have made it clear that violence will not be tolerated.
Security is being stepped up with some 99,000 police officers being deployed around the country, at polling stations and vote-counting centres.
The polling stations are open from 06:00 to 17:00 local time.
Presidential candidates must secure support from across the country to be declared the winner, so they cannot just rely on support from their ethnic groups, as has been the case in previous elections.
Official results will be announced by March 11 by the electoral commission.
Kenyan election in numbers:
14 million registered voters
8 presidential candidates
99,000 police officers being deployed
First election under new constitution
Winning presidential candidates need 50% of vote + 25% in half of 47 counties
Voters will get ballot papers for 6 different elections
100,000 people still living in camps after violence followed 2007 poll
Uhuru Kenyatta among the favorites despite facing trial at the ICC, where he is accused of crimes against humanity over last election
Kenya has announced discovery of oil for the first time in the country after exploratory drilling by Anglo-Irish firm Tullow Oil.
President Mwai Kibaki said the discovery was made in the country’s north-western Turkana region.
Mwai Kibaki said it was “the first time Kenya has made such a discovery” and called it a “major breakthrough”.
Kenya is a regional business and tourist hub with the largest economy in East Africa, although its relative wealth is not based on mineral riches.
The Kenyan president said Tullow would drill more wells to establish the commercial viability of the oil.
“It is… the beginning of a long journey to make our country an oil producer, which typically takes in excess of three years. We shall be giving the nation more information as the oil exploration process continues,” Mwai Kibaki said.
Kenya has announced discovery of oil for the first time in the country after exploratory drilling by Anglo-Irish firm Tullow Oil
Tullow Oil, which also struck oil in neighboring Uganda, said the Kenyan find had exceeded their expectations.
“This is an excellent start to our major exploration campaign in the East African rift basins of Kenya and Ethiopia,” said Angus McCoss, the company’s exploration director.
“To make a good oil discovery in our first well is beyond our expectations and bodes well for the material programme ahead of us.”
Tullow has found oil in, or off the coast of, a number of African countries, including Ghana and Sierra Leone.