Kenya held its breath on Friday in anticipation of the winner of the presidential election, provisional results giving the outgoing Uhuru Kenyatta widely favorite against his rival Raila Odinga, who claims victory.
The name of the winner will only be announced by the electoral commission (IEBC) once the complete results have been compiled and authenticated at the level of the 290 constituencies of the country. The latter said Friday at midday to have received the results of 273 constituencies.
Tuesday’s general election was calm, but the climate deteriorated as the opposition multiplied its accusations of fraud. The sporadic and localized violence led to at least four deaths, reviving the specter of murderous scenes that followed the 2007 presidential election (at least 1,100 deaths and more than 600,000 displaced).
On Friday, US Ambassador to Kenya Bob Godec joined international observers – the European Union and the African Union in mind – to urge the Kenyans to be patient and their leaders to resort to legal channels prescribed in case of disagreement.
“Violence can never be an option, no Kenyan should die for an election,” he told the press. “The future of Kenya is more important than any election, and it is up to the leaders to express it clearly.”
The town of Kisumu (west) and several shanty towns in Nairobi were generally calm on Friday while waiting for the results, while clashes cracked down by the police exploded on Wednesday in opposition strongholds, where electoral disappointments are frequent and Often sources of tension.
The Nasa opposition coalition initially spoke of computer piracy and said Thursday it held evidence, based on sources inside the IEBC, that Raila Odinga had won. She then urged the Commission to declare him “the duly elected President of the Republic of Kenya”.
The victory declaration by the opposition on Thursday elicited cheering scenes in Kisumu and several slums in Nairobi, while IEBC provisional results credited Kenyatta with 54.24 percent of the vote against 44.87 percent. Mr. Odinga, out of 99% of polling stations stripped.
Responding to Mr. Odinga’s camp, the commission found gross tabulation errors in the documents purportedly accrediting his victory and, according to him, from a Microsoft database, when the IEBC uses Oracle.
On Thursday evening, Odinga, 72, said he was “disappointed” by the observers. “We do not want to see any violence in Kenya. We know the consequences of what happened in 2008 and we do not want to see this happen again.” But “I do not control anyone. People want justice,” he added.
A possible victory of Mr. Kenyatta suggests a strong feeling of bitterness among the followers of Mr. Odinga and possible disturbances.
The behavior of some 150,000 members of the security forces deployed to the polls will be crucial in the days ahead. Amnesty International and Mr. Odinga on Thursday called on them not to disproportionately use force.
Accusations of fraud exacerbated the already weighted passions of half a century of dynastic rivalry between the Kenyatta and Odinga families. The latter’s father, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, was briefly vice-president, before losing the post-independence struggle for power for the first head of state Jomo Kenyatta, Uhuru’s father.
In addition, Mr. Odinga certainly delivers his last major political battle, which he presented four times to the presidential.
In 2007, he rejected the re-election of Mwai Kibaki, in a vote tainted by numerous frauds according to observers. In 2013, he also challenged his defeat and turned in vain to justice.
Mr. Odinga, a member of the Luo community in the west of the country, once again presented himself as the guarantor of a more equitable distribution of the wealth of the most dynamic economy in East Africa.
For his part, Kenyatta, the Kenyan economic elite, Kenya’s largest ethnic group, highlighted with his running mate William Ruto the economic development of the country, including the new railway line between Nairobi and Mombasa.
If the presidential election was at the center of attention, the Kenyans also voted Tuesday to elect their governors, deputies, senators, local elected representatives and women’s representatives in the Assembly.
The opposition appears to have lost several county governor posts to the ruling party, including the coveted Nairobi, according to provisional results from the IEBC. In three other countries, women seem to be on the way to becoming governors for the first time in the country’s history.