Published On: Mon, Nov 20th, 2017

Uhuru Kenyatta declared president by court ruling – Kenyans hope for an end to uncertainty.

Kenya’s top court upheld Uhuru Kenyatta’s presidential win, ending three months of electoral uncertainty that have slowed growth in East Africa’s biggest economy.

Kenyatta won the rerun fairly and electoral authorities’ failure to hold polling in the country’s western region didn’t invalidate the outcome, the Supreme Court ruled Monday. In a unanimous ruling, the court rejected all of the petitions challenging the vote.

“The court has unanimously determined that the petitions are not merited,” Chief Justice David Maraga told a packed courtroom in the capital, Nairobi. “The presidential election of Oct. 26 is hereby upheld.”

The ruling concluded a standoff that began with an Aug. 8 vote and has weighed on Kenya’s image as one of the continent’s top investment destinations and a regional hub for companies including Alphabet Inc. and Coca-Cola Co. The reaction from opposition leader Raila Odinga, who boycotted the October polls, will be crucial in the wake of protests against Kenyatta’s initial victories that human-rights groups say left as many as 80 people dead.

Kenyatta, who’ll be sworn in next week and form a new cabinet, now needs to unite a country that’s so politically divided that some are advocating independence for regions that support the opposition. The world’s largest shipper of black tea is also seeking to reinvigorate growth that’s forecast to slow to 5 percent from 5.8 percent last year and cut unemployment that affects more than a third of the Kenyan workforce.

‘Reach Out’

Kenyatta “must reach out in a substantive way” to Odinga, whose supporters he needs to efficiently govern, said to Abdullahi Boru Halakhe, a regional researcher at Amnesty International.

“Odinga carries a lot of hope to a lot of economically marginalized groups,” Boru said by phone from Nairobi. “Kenyatta needs to find a way to reach them, not as a token. Poaching leaders from the opposition camp can have a negative impact.”

The Supreme Court’s judgment was the second on an electoral outcome this year, after it set an historic precedent for Africa by throwing out Kenyatta’s August victory. Electoral authorities had failed to disprove the opposition’s claim of vote-rigging, it said at the time.

Odinga urged supporters to boycott the Oct. 26 rerun, saying reforms hadn’t been enacted to allow fair polling. Kenyatta won a landslide in that vote, in which just 38.8 percent of the electorate cast ballots, compared with 79 percent in the first round. The court petitions by a former lawmaker and two activists alleged the electoral body flouted the constitution by failing to hold fresh nominations.

A former prime minister who failed in three earlier bids for the presidency, Odinga vowed to lead a campaign of mass resistance after Kenyatta was initially declared the winner of the second vote. The 72-year-old, who’s blamed previous defeats on vote-rigging, has urged supporters to boycott companies his alliance says backs Kenyatta’s government, including Safaricom Ltd., the region’s biggest mobile operator.

A dispute over the outcome of a 2007 election in Kenya triggered two months of ethnic violence that left more than 1,100 people dead.

Bloomberg

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