Kenya’s election commission announced early Saturday that Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta prevailed in the country’s presidential elections by the slimmest of margins, winning 50.03 per cent of the vote.
That result is likely to bring controversy in Kenya and an almost certain legal challenge from Prime Minister Raila Odinga according to reports by Associated Press. Kenyatta needed to break the 50 per cent barrier to avoid a run-off with Odinga, but he did so by only 4,099 votes out of more than 12.3 million cast.
Monday’s vote was the first since Kenya’s 2007 election sparked two months of tribe-on-tribe violence after a disputed election win was claimed by President Mwai Kibaki. More than 1,000 people were killed in attacks that included machetes, bows and arrows and police firearms.
A win by Kenyatta could greatly affect Kenya’s relations with the West. Kenyatta faces charges at the International Criminal Court for his alleged role in directing some of Kenya’s 2007 post-election violence. His running mate, William Ruto, faces similar charges.
The U.S. has warned of “consequences” if Kenyatta, the son of Kenya’s founding father, wins, as have several European countries. Britain, which ruled Kenya up until the early 1960s, has said they would have only essential contact with the Kenyan government if Kenyatta is president.
Odinga’s camp has indicated legal challenges could be filed. Monday’s presidential vote proceeded mostly peacefully, but the counting process has been stymied by a myriad of break-downs and errors.