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Kenyans Hope Next President Will Unite Divided Country


Kenya's President-Elect Uhuru Kenyatta arrives at the the National Election Center where final election results were announced declaring he would be the country's next president, in Nairobi, March 9, 2013.

Kenya's President-Elect Uhuru Kenyatta arrives at the the National Election Center where final election results were announced declaring he would be the country's next president, in Nairobi, March 9, 2013.

Kenya's election commission has officially declared Uhuru Kenyatta the outright winner of the country's first presidential election since disputed 2007 polls. Kenyans across the political spectrum are hoping the president-elect will unite the country and prevent any return to violence.

After Kenyan election commission chairman Issack Hassan declared Kenyatta had won the election, Prime Minister Raila Odinga, who finished in second place, said he is not conceding defeat, and he vowed to challenge the results in court.

Uhuru Kenyatta

  • Deputy prime minister, former finance minister
  • 51 years old, son of Kenya's first president
  • Faces crimes against humanity charges at the International Criminal Court at The Hague relating to post-election violence in 2007
  • Nominated to parliament in 2001
  • Appointed to run the Kenya Tourism Board in 1999
Kenyatta received 50.07 percent of the vote, just enough to avoid a runoff.

The president elect and his running mate, William Ruto, both face charges before the International Criminal Court for allegedly helping to orchestrate the post-election violence that caused bloodshed throughout Kenya. in early 2008. Both men deny those charges, which have yet to be heard in court.

Political observers say Kenyan politics over the years have been based on tribal groupings that polarized the country.

Onesmus Mutisiya, who supported the prime minister, says the election outcome "cheated" Mr. Odinga of victory. He does not see a bright future ahead for Kenya under these circumstances.

“I think life will be hard," Mutisiya says,"because the person who we thought would change our lives for the better did not come out on top. And this was not because he didn't win the election, but because he was sort of cheated."

Motorcycle driver James Njuguna, 27, an ethnic Kikuyu, says the next president's first task is to unite the country for the sake of peace and stability.

"[In] this country there is half that support Uhuru [Kenyatta] and there is another half that doesn’t support him. The first thing he should do is to unite the Kenyans," he said.

Mutisiya says the president should serve all Kenyans, not only his tribe.

"He can unite Kenyans but he has to stop the mentality of tribalism," the Odinga supporter said, adding, "even if the president is a Kikuyu he is not the president of his tribesmen but of all Kenyans.”

As for resolving the causes of the violence that swept Kenya five years ago, even before the election results were announced, the international court in The Hague postponed Ruto and Kenyatta's trials until May and July, respectively.

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