NAIROBI, Kenya — Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta on Saturday said he was “humbled” after being declared the winner of Kenya’s presidential election, even as his main rival, Prime Minister Raila Odinga, quickly contested the result.
Kenyatta clinched a first-round victory with 50.07 percent of the vote, according to the election commission.
Odinga quickly dismissed the election process as “tainted” and pledged to file a suit with the Supreme Court to have the results thrown out.
The Kenyatta victory could complicate Kenyan foreign relations with Western nations, as he is to face trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in June for his alleged involvement in ethnic violence after an election in 2007.
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Addressing supporters after his victory, the president-elect said the “international community must respect the sovereignty and democratic will” of Kenyans.
“I am humbled that in a free and fair election, you, the people of Kenya, have placed your trust in me to lead the nation as your next president,” Kenyatta told supporters. “Kenya has finally come of age.”
The president-elect said during the campaign he would be able to manage his court appearances in The Hague and his obligations as head of state. The vice-president elect, William Ruto, is also facing an ICC trial in May.
Kenyatta, 51, received more than 6.13 million votes — compared with his rival’s 5.3 million — in an election that saw the highest voter turnout in the East African nation’s history.
Isaack Hassan, the head of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, handed over the certificate of victory to Kenyatta, but within hours, Odinga — who was making his third bid for the presidency — appeared at a news conference, bashing the election process.
The premier said there were irregularities and a “failure of virtually every instrument” used by the election commission.
“Now it is clear that the constitutionally sanctioned process of electing a new set of leaders to take us to the next level has been thwarted by another tainted election … it is democracy on trial,” said Odinga, whose supporters also cried foul after he came out the loser in the 2007 elections, leading to the ethnic bloodshed.