March 6, 2008
December 30, 2007
NAIROBI, Kenya (CNN) — Kenya’s incumbent president Mwai Kibaki has been re-elected, beating his rival by a margin of only 230,000 votes among almost 9 million cast, the electoral commission announced Sunday.
Kibaki narrowly defeated Raila Odinga, of the opposition Orange Democratic Movement, winning 4,584,721 votes compared with 4,352,993 for Odinga, the chairman of the electoral commission, Samuel Kivuitu, said in an address broadcast by the Kenyan Broadcasting Corporation.
The television station later showed footage of Kibaki being sworn-in at a ceremony at the presidential palace.
The closest fought election in the country’s history threatened to descend into chaos after supporters of Odinga earlier disrupted a press conference where the electoral commission was expected to announce the results.
Kivuitu was escorted out of the room after shouts broke out from supporters of Odinga who accused the government of election fraud. He was taken under armed guard to his private offices where he announced the result in an address later broadcast on state television.
Following the swearing-in, Kibaki insisted the elections were “free and fair” and called upon opposition parties to set aside their differences and to “let us all work together to build consensus.”
Odinga’s party earlier had accused the government of “doctoring” the results.
Amid chaotic scenes, Odinga claimed the official counts from 48 out of a total 210 constituencies were flawed, saying that around 300,000 votes were in dispute.
He also introduced an official from the commission who said he witnessed vote-rigging by staff going on at the commission’s headquarters.
The official said he had been asked to sign off returns from polling stations from Kenya’s eastern coastal region that he claimed had been deliberately altered by commission staff.
Odinga said earlier that if the president was announced winner “it will do the biggest injustice to the people of this country.”
“The consequences are too grave to consider,” he said at a press briefing.
The election has been plagued by violence as some supporters of Odinga went on the rampage angry at the delay in announcing a result.
CNN staff witnessed gangs looting and then burning several stores.
According to Associated Press reports, at least 14 people have been killed in election-related violence since Thursday’s voting in Kenya. Nine died Sunday in the Mathare shantytown, AP reported.
Protesters waving machetes were shouting “Kibaki must go!” as buses and shops burned in Mathare, AP reported.
Kibaki’s slim margin of victory is a marked difference from his win five years ago, in a landslide election. He had run on promises to fight corruption.
Since, he has seen his authority erode amid a number of high-profile corruption scandals in his government.
He faced a serious challenge from Odinga, a flamboyant politician who hails from the minority Luo tribe and has won support from rural and urban voters after promising to share the wealth among all the people.
A peaceful election and a smooth transition of power were seen as crucial for Kenya, a stable country in an otherwise-volatile region.
The international community expressed concern at the tide of rioting and looting that had accompanied the election.
In a joint statement released Sunday, British Foreign Minister David Miliband and International Development Secretary Douglas Alexander called on the leaders of the two main parties to “act responsibly,” and called for an end to the violence.
The U.S. State Department congratulated the people of Kenya for “largely peaceful and orderly voting,” but repeated the calls for calm while the count occurred.
Copyright 2007 CNN. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Associated Press contributed to this report.