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Kenya’s President Named Winner of Disputed Election

Uhuru Kenyatta, left, claps after he was announced the winner in the rerun of presidential election at the Centre in Bomas, Nairobi, Kenya, Oct. 30, 2017.
Uhuru Kenyatta, left, claps after he was announced the winner in the rerun of presidential election at the Centre in Bomas, Nairobi, Kenya, Oct. 30, 2017.
Kenya’s President Named Winner of Disputed Election
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Kenya’s Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission says President Uhuru Kenyatta has been re-elected.

The commission says 98 percent of Kenyans who marked ballots in the presidential election last week voted for Kenyatta. He received 7.4 million votes.

Six weeks ago, Kenya’s Supreme Court cancelled Kenyatta’s victory in elections held in August. The court ruled that the commission did not follow the constitution and law. It ordered a new vote.

About 80 percent of registered voters marked ballots in the August elections. But only 38 percent voted last Thursday.

Opposition leader Raila Odinga withdrew as a presidential candidate about a month ago. He said the commission was not ready for a repeat vote. And he urged his supporters not to vote in the election.

Odinga comes from Kisumu in western Kenya. Many people there support him.

Eric Otieno says he cannot accept the result of the repeat election.

“I have just seen disaster in this country because you cannot tell anyone that the way forward, we have had elections, and so we have a president. To me, we don’t have a validly elected president. Recognizing Uhuru as president, my president, no way…”

Many people in the area where Kenyatta was born and in the Rift Valley area voted for the governing Jubilee party. The Rift Valley is home to deputy president William Ruto.

The electoral commission canceled the vote in four counties for security reasons. The four are Kisumu, Homa Bay, Siaya and Migori.

Kenya's opposition leader Raila Odinga makes a statement to the media in Nairobi, Oct. 31, 2017.
Kenya's opposition leader Raila Odinga makes a statement to the media in Nairobi, Oct. 31, 2017.

Opposition supporters have been protesting in some parts of the country. They are calling for electoral reforms.

Some political observers question the legitimacy of the latest election because 12 million registered voters did not mark ballots. Kamissa Camara is one such expert. She works for PartnersGlobal, an organization that works for peaceful and democratic change.

“Odinga did boycott the election as well as most of his supporters. So only one third of registered voters actually went to vote in this rerun. So that will cause a great question and a great challenge for the legitimacy of President Uhuru Kenyatta.”

On Tuesday, Odinga made his first public comments since Kenyatta was declared the winner. He described the vote last week as “a sham election that must not be allowed to stand.”

Odinga announced the creation of what he called a “People’s Assembly,” through which the opposition would “exercise the solemn duty of restoring democracy, constitutionalism, and the rule of law.”

Chris Hennemeyer follows politics in Africa. He says Kenyatta will have to change the way he talks about his victory if he is to be able to govern his divided country.

“Now it’s up to him to decide whether he wants to sound like a conciliatory leader who’s attempting to bring Kenyans together or whether that’s not the route he chooses to go on and from his initial remarks today, it does not sound like he’s willing to speak to Raila to try and find some common ground and move the country forward.”

Chris Hennemeyer says he does not believe the election will stop Kenya from playing an important role in East Africa.

“He understands that business must go on so I don’t see Kenya turning into a failed state or dysfunctional country."

John Tomaszewski is with the International Republican Institute, an organization that works to spread democracy. He was in Kenya during the elections. He says this has been a difficult time for the country.

“We’ve seen a very tough election cycle and I think what’s happened today is one more step in a process that won’t end today. I think, while the Jubilee government would like to move on, you know, the NASA coalition has dug in and I think we’ll continue to see more and more of this discussion in the weeks ahead...”

Kenyan business and religious leaders have called for calm.

At least nine people have died from election-related violence since Thursday.

I’m Anne Ball.

Correspondent Mohammed Yusuf reported this story from Kisumu, Kenya. Christopher Jones-Cruise adapted his report for VOA Learning English. His story contains information from a report by VOA’s Mariama Diallo. George Grow was the editor.

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Words in This Story

valid – adj. acceptable according to the law

legitimate – adj. real, accepted or official

rerun – n. an occurrence in which something happens or is done again

sham - adj. not true or real

conciliatory – adj. intended to make someone less angry

dysfunctional – adj. the condition of having poor and unhealthy behaviors and attitudes within a group of people

cycle – n. a set of events or actions that happen again and again in the same order; a repeating series of events or actions

NASA – n. acronym for National Super Alliance – the name of the political opposition in Kenya

dug in – phrasal verb to dig a trench and take position inside it (used figuratively)