Despite about 10 percent of Kenyans not being able to cast a vote because of violence, Kenya’s electoral commission has declared President Uhuru Kenyatta the winner of a re-run of the country’s presidential election.
Kenyatta received 98.26 percent of the vote in an election that was boycotted by the opposition and has rekindled the deep tribal divisions that have in the past led to serious outbreaks of violence.
Before the making the announcement Monday, Wafula Chebukati, the chairman of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, called for a moment of silence for the dozens of men and women who have been killed during the course of these elections.
Chebukati, who less than two weeks ago said he could not conduct a fair election because of political meddling in his commission, said he believed in the future of Kenya’s democracy. But, he said, Kenya also has to deal with problems that are easier “swept under the rug.”
“Democracy is about hope; it’s about a future that is greater than the present. It’s about creating an environment and institutions that inspire a Kenyan dream,” he said. “It’s about knowing without a shadow of doubt that they are part of the Kenyan story.”
Back in August, the country’s Supreme Court threw out the results of the first presidential elections citing vast irregularities. At that moment, the court asserted its independence and Kenya was hailed a beacon of democracy in East Africa. It was the first time an African supreme court had annulled the victory of a sitting president.
But the history of the moment and what it meant for Kenya’s maturing democracy, quickly faded. It was marred by the politicization of two key institutions — the IEBC and the Supreme Court — and the tribalization of the violent street protests. In the end, only about 38 percent of registered voters went to the polls, a long way from the 75 percent who did so in August.
A new poll was set for Oct. 26, but opposition leader Raila Odinga said too few changes had been made to correct the mistakes of the first election, so he pulled out. Bouts of violence shook Kenya’s opposition strongholds and as elections officials tried to do their jobs, they were attacked.