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Kenya is nervous as election result sparks protests

#Kenya #nervous #election #result #sparks #protests

Kenyans braced for what could be a turbulent time on Tuesday after the disputed result of the country’s presidential election sparked violent protests in some areas.

After an anxious days-long wait for the results of the Aug. 9 election, Deputy President William Ruto was declared the winner after narrowly beating his rival Raila Odinga after a largely peaceful voting process.

But the announcement did little to calm nerves as the electoral commission itself was divided over the result and protesters in Odinga’s strongholds hurled rocks and set tires on fire on Monday.

With the trauma of previous post-election violence still hanging over Kenya, both Odinga and Ruto had earlier pledged to resolve any disputes in court rather than on the streets.

But that didn’t stop supporters of 77-year-old Odinga – known by his nickname “Baba” (“father” in Swahili) – from filling the streets in his precinct in the lakeside city of Kisumu, where they clashed with police, who fired tear gas around to scatter them.

Protests also erupted Monday in two Nairobi slums that have long been bastions of Odinga.

No Kenyan presidential election result has gone unchallenged since 2002, and a Supreme Court challenge by Odinga is almost certain, as fellow campaigner Martha Karua tweeted, “It’s not over until it’s over.”

The race remained tight to the end, with Ruto garnering 50.49 percent of the vote, compared to 48.85 percent for Odinga, according to Independent Electoral and Boundary Commission chairman Wafula Chebukati.

As Kenyans wait to hear from Odinga after losing his fifth presidential bid, four of the seven IEBC commissioners have already rejected the outcome, with one calling the process “opaque”.

The dispute is likely to further damage the IEBC’s reputation after it faced harsh criticism for its handling of Kenya’s canceled 2017 elections.

But Chebukati, who was also in charge of the IEBC in 2017, insisted he had fulfilled his duties under the country’s law despite facing “intimidation and harassment”.

– All eyes on Odinga –

Although Ruto, 55, has vowed to work with “all leaders” and said “there is no place for revenge,” all eyes will be on Odinga in the coming days, with analysts warning that the demonstrations are likely to take place in Kisumu and Area to be continued Nairobi.

“The tightness of the final balance sheet has inevitably increased the likelihood of disruptions,” consultancy Eurasia Group said in a statement, but adding that “widespread unrest remains unlikely.”

The country of around 50 million people is already struggling with rising prices, a crippling drought, endemic corruption and growing disillusionment with the political elite.

While several African leaders congratulated Ruto, the US embassy instead hailed Kenyan voters and the IEBC, urging political rivals to peacefully settle their differences over the election.

Ruto, a shadowy rags-to-riches businessman, had portrayed the vote as a battle between ordinary “hustlers” and the “dynasties” that have dominated Kenyan politics since independence from Britain in 1963.

Any challenge to the results must be submitted within seven days to the Supreme Court, which then has 14 days to make a decision. If it orders the repeal, a new vote must be taken within 60 days.

Barring a court motion, Ruto will take the oath of office in two weeks, becoming Kenya’s fifth president since independence.

In August 2017, the Supreme Court annulled the election after Odinga rejected the results. Dozens of people were killed by police in the protests that followed.

The worst electoral violence in Kenya’s history came after a disputed vote in 2007 when more than 1,100 people were killed in bloodshed between rival tribes.

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