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Kenyan public remains generally calm despite disputed election

A police officer in Nairobi, Kenya, gestures to a crowd of people to go home, as he stands next to a peace slogan painted on teh road by a graffiti artist on Saturday. Uhuru Kenyatta — the son of Kenya’s founding father and a man accused by an international court of helping orchestrate the vicious violence that marred the nation’s last vote — was certified as the winner on Saturday of Kenya’s presidential election by the slimmest majority: 50.07 percent.

Associated Press

A police officer in Nairobi, Kenya, gestures to a crowd of people to go home, as he stands next to a peace slogan painted on teh road by a graffiti artist on Saturday. Uhuru Kenyatta — the son of Kenya’s founding father and a man accused by an international court of helping orchestrate the vicious violence that marred the nation’s last vote — was certified as the winner on Saturday of Kenya’s presidential election by the slimmest majority: 50.07 percent.

NAIROBI, Kenya - As Kenya faced another disputed election Sunday, the country passed an important test: Despite outrage among many Kenyans over a result they saw as flawed, there was no major outbreak of violence. Security forces dispersed the few protests, earlier banned by Kenyan authorities.

Kenyans seemed determined to break with the past, after tribal violence broke out after the disputed 2007 election, killing more than 1,000 people and tainting the country's reputation as an emerging democracy.

But in the drive to avoid dissent and violence, the country brushed aside what some activists called a failed election, caused by the repeated blunders and technical problems of the Independent Election and Boundaries Commission.

After a divisive and tense election, Kenya now faces an equally tense Supreme Court hearing on its outcome, with cases to be brought not just by the losing side, but also by a group of independent anti-corruption activists, the African Center for Open Governance.

Prime Minister Raila Odinga refused to concede to challenger Uhuru Kenyatta, saying it was impossible to know who won the election because every instrument of the election commission had failed. The election commission declared Kenyatta the winner.

Citing "rampant illegality," Odinga said he was challenging the result in the court to defend Kenyan democracy.

He said the complaints of his party's agents had been ignored and they had been shut out by the election commission, which refused to countenance a recount, despite the extremely narrow margin by which Kenyatta surpassed the 50 percent threshold to avoid a runoff.

The narrow margin and repeated failures of the election commission raise the possibility that the Supreme Court could call for an audit of the election result, analysts said.

Kenyatta got 50.07 percent of the vote, crossing the line with a margin of about 8,000 votes out of more than 12 million cast.

Kenyan public remains generally calm despite disputed election 03/10/13 [Last modified: Sunday, March 10, 2013 8:42pm]
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