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Kenyan Reaction to Kenyatta Victory Decidedly Mixed

  • Jill Craig

Kenyan election officials have finished their week-long counting of ballots and named Uhuru Kenyatta the fourth president of Kenya. But, predictably, given the violence after the 2007 election, reactions from Kenyans are mixed.

Kenya's Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission says Uhuru Kenyatta secured a slim majority - 50.07 percent of the vote. That eliminated the need for a runoff against his main rival, Raila Odinga, who plans to appeal, claiming election fraud.

The mood around the country varies, but most people are urging acceptance of the results and for peace to prevail.

In the town of Dagoretti, a Kenyatta stronghold, people like Ann Benika are pleased with the outcome.

“The election was fair and good, because there was no fight. There was no tension,” says she.

Both Kenyatta and Odinga supporters live in the Nairobi slum of Mathare, an area heavily impacted by the 2007 and 2008 post-election violence.

Resident Hesbon Osiga says that he is willing to accept Kenyatta, as long as the new president lives up to his promises.

“So we expect the [winning] side, Uhuru Kenyatta, and his deputy president, they should stick to their manifesto. These young people, who are with me, they are unemployed. They have got so many challenges. Our prayer is that they deliver as per their manifesto.”

However, Joshua Deya says that he agrees with Odinga’s decision to contest the elections results.

“We are not going to take the law into our hands, as in 2007. But now we have another [option]. If you are not satisfied here, then we’ll go to court.”

The reaction in Odinga’s home base of Kisumu to the Kenyatta victory was more extreme, with some calls for secession, as voiced by Odinga supporter David Omondi.

“If the others who voted for that other candidate, cannot come together with the rest of the country, then we are ready to have our own republic.”

Back in Mathare, residents were quick to say that they will continue being friends after the elections are over.

And some, like John Gatiba, say they are focusing on Kenya’s future.

“Please guys: Maintain the peace. Go back to work. And let’s move the country forward. And the elections are just a short-time moment, but we have a lot to do for this country and that is what matters at the end of the day.”

Voter turnout was 86 percent in this election, with more than 12 million votes cast.

Kisumu footage for the video report was provided by Amos Waganga

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