Kenya’s incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta won 98 percent of the vote in a repeated election in which an opposition boycott helped lower turnout to 39 percent, the electoral commission said on Monday. The announcement touched off small protests in a few opposition strongholds but also celebrations in pro-Kenyatta areas. Veteran opposition leader Raila Odinga said the Oct. 26 election was a farce. Civil society groups also cited problems with the vote. The violence has for the most part seen protesters clash with police but some Kenyans fear it is starting to take on ethnic overtones after two deaths in clashes between rival groups at the weekend. At least 66 people have died in overall election violence. On Monday, the U.S. ambassador said Washington was “profoundly concerned” by the outbreaks of violence since the re-run. Kenya is east Africa’s richest economy and a key security ally of the West against militant Islam. It also a key regional trade, logistics and trade hub.
In his victory speech, Kenyatta repeated his belief that his victory in the original Aug. 8 election was legitimate and said dialogue would have to wait if the opposition was going to lodge court cases again. The Supreme Court nullified the Aug. 8 vote on procedural grounds.
“My victory today is just part of a process that is likely to once again be subjected to a constitutional test through our courts … I will submit to this constitutional path regardless of the outcome,” Kenyatta said.
“Those who are going to ask me: ‘Are you going to engage in dialogue?’ … Let them (the opposition) first and foremost exhaust all their constitutional options.”