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By Lisa Vives
Incumbent Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta emerged victorious in the repeat of the election held last August that no candidate had managed to win outright.
Voting was light last Thursday, attributed in part to the boycott led by opposition leader Raila Odinga. Of the 39% of registered voters who cast ballots last Thursday, Mr. Kenyatta carried 98.3% of those voting, winning him a second five-year term.
“Today, I as a Kenyan celebrate the resilience of the nation, but I also celebrate the resilience of our democracy,” Mr. Kenyatta said in his acceptance speech on Monday. “Any other county experiencing the turns and twists of [the] recent electoral process would have burst asunder.”
But his victory was marred by violence and the deaths of at least 14 people.
Polls stations failed to open in four opposition-stronghold counties in the west, including Kisumu, Mr. Odinga’s ancestral home. As Mr. Kenyatta gave his acceptance speech, dozens of young men gathered in central Kisumu, burning tires and chanting pro-Odinga slogans.
Macharia Gaitho, writing in Kenya’s Daily Nation, cautioned the winners “to recognize theirs is a pyrrhic victory (and) they should accept it with a great deal of humility.”
“They must acknowledge that they take office not just with a fractured mandate, but with a resentful and excluded half of the population who heeded the boycott call and will be reluctant to accept the outcome,” she wrote.
“98 per cent of the vote, in the best tradition of the old-fashioned African dictators, means nothing when you’re running against yourself,” she reminded them.
“This is not the time to boast,” she chided the candidates, “but to reach out on the path of national unity, reconciliation and a clear road map towards the resolution of deep-seated grievances that make our electoral contests such explosive ethnic duels.”
Meanwhile, news of the passing of Eldoret Catholic Bishop Cornelius Korir, a popular cleric described as a humble servant of peace and reconciliation, shocked many Kenyans.
Bishop Korir helped organize several peace meetings between warring pastoralist communities. He distributed relief food and once accommodated 10,000 internally displaced people in the Eldoret cathedral’s compound.
“He was a peace ambassador who tried to bring people together,” Fr Sospeter Kangogo said, shortly after confirming Bishop Korir’s death. “I don’t think there’s anyone who will fill his shoes easily.” w/pix of Pres. U. Kenyatta in election victory