Kenya Race Is Said to Have Winner, but Rival Won’t Concede


Uhuru Kenyatta

Uhuru Kenyatta, the son of Kenya’s first president and a divisive political figure who has been accused of bankrolling death squads, appeared to have secured enough votes to win the race for Kenya’s presidency early Saturday. But no official announcement was made, and the other top contender indicated that he would not concede defeat, raising worrieAt about 3 a.m., Kenyan television stations reported results from the election commission showing that Mr. Kenyatta, who studied at Amherst College and is one of the richest men in Africa, had squeaked past the majority threshold, winning 50.03 percent of the vote.

“Mr. President!” said a message on the KTN television network. “Uhuru wins final count. Results to be verified by agents.”

The election commission, however, had said late on Friday that it was not making a final announcement until 11 a.m. Saturday, nearly a week after the election began.

Raila Odinga, Kenya’s prime minister and the second-place contender, with 43 percent of the vote, will reject the result, one of his top advisers said Saturday morning. Many people fear such a development could lead to the type of confusion and violence that erupted in 2007, in Kenya’s last disputed election, when Mr. Odinga said he was cheated out of victory.

“Raila has no intention of conceding and will be challenging this in court,” said Salim Lone, the adviser to Mr. Odinga. “The level of the failures in the system makes it very difficult to believe it was a credible result, and if Uhuru is declared president, Raila will go to court.”dinga

Mr. Lone said that Mr. Odinga would “very strongly ask people to stay calm” and wait for the courts to address his complaints.

Mr. Odinga’s rejection of the vote count in 2007 sent his supporters pouring into the streets, setting off riots and killing members of other ethnic groups.

It was this explosion of politically related violence, which left more than 1,000 people dead, that led to the grave accusations against Mr. Kenyatta, 51, who has been charged by the International Criminal Court with crimes against humanity. The United States is not a signatory to the court, but has pledged to support it. If Mr. Kenyatta is convicted or stops cooperating with the court, it could bring serious complications for the United States, which considers Kenya one of its closest allies in Africa.

According to prosecutors, as hundreds of Mr. Kenyatta’s fellow Kikuyus were being slaughtered by rival ethnic groups, he organized meetings with an outlawed Nairobi street gang to take revenge.

Mr. Kenyatta, prosecutors said, “contributed money towards the retaliatory attack” and was “aware of the widespread and systematic nature of the attack.” The gang, called the Mungiki, killed scores of people, including small children.

Mr. Kenyatta, who has been serving as deputy prime minister, denies the charges and says he will clear his name. Many analysts say the case is rather weak and that one of the prosecution’s key witnesses has dropped out.

Political observers here originally thought that Mr. Kenyatta would shelve his longstanding presidential ambitions — he also ran in 2002, and was trounced — and focus on his criminal case. Instead, Mr. Kenyatta used his vast family fortune to put together a vigorous campaign, and then he joined forces with another divisive figure, William Ruto, one of Kenya’s most charismatic politicians. He has also been charged with crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court.

Mr. Ruto is from another one of Kenya’s biggest ethnic groups, the Kalenjin, and has been accused of sponsoring gangs who slaughtered Kikuyus during the last election crisis.

As Mr. Kenyatta’s running mate, Mr. Ruto will be deputy president if Mr. Kenyatta is declared the winner.-NYTimes



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