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Kenyatta Elected Kenyan President, But Challenges Loom

  • Gabe Joselow

Kenya's presidential candidate Uhuru Kenyatta (C) and his running mate William Ruto (2nd L) celebrate winning the presidential election with supporters after the official result was released in Nairobi, March 9, 2013.
Kenya’s electoral commission has confirmed Uhuru Kenyatta has won the election to become the country’s fourth president. But his main rival in the vote says he will challenge the results in court.

Kenyatta, the son of Kenya’s first president, accepted the documents that certified his victory in the country’s crucial election.

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
Kenya’s electoral commission, the IEBC, confirmed Saturday that Kenyatta won the contest with 50.07 percent of the vote, edging out his nearest rival, Prime Minister Raila Odinga.

In an acceptance speech at a Nairobi university. Kenyatta thanked Odinga for his “spirited campaign” and promised to work with members of all political parties.

"I today extend a hand of friendship and cooperation to you, so that together we can truly serve the Kenyan people," he said.

This election was Kenya’s first since the disputed vote in 2007, which sparked inter-ethnic clashes that killed more than 1,100 people and displaced more than 600,000.

Kenyatta and his running mate, William Ruto, are both facing charges at the International Criminal Court, accused of playing a role in organizing the violence.

His opponent, Odinga, was on the losing end of the vote five years ago, and finds himself again as the runner-up.

Raila Odinga

  • Prime minister, head of the CORD alliance
  • 68 years old, son of Kenya’s first vice president
  • Unsuccessfully ran for president against Mwai Kibaki in 2007
  • Elected to parliament in 1992
  • Charged with treason and detained without trial in the 1980s
Odinga has not conceded defeat, and instead has vowed to challenge the results of the election in court.

"It is clear that the constitutionally-sanctioned process of electing a new set of leaders to take us to the next level has been thwarted by another tainted election," he said.

Odinga’s party has cited serious concerns about the election process, which was marred by technical problems and delays.

The constitution allows for petitions challenging the vote before Kenyatta is due to be inaugurated in about two weeks.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry congratulated the people of Kenya for holding a peaceful election.

U.S. officials had issued veiled warnings to Kenya in the weeks before the vote, saying the choices they make will have "consequences."

In a statement Saturday, Kerry said "foremost in our minds is a desire to see the will of the Kenyan people expressed freely and fairly."