Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Protests Erupt as Court Validates Kenya Election ; Violence in 2 Cities Kills at Least 5 after Claims of Cheating Are Dismissed

Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Protests Erupt as Court Validates Kenya Election ; Violence in 2 Cities Kills at Least 5 after Claims of Cheating Are Dismissed

Article excerpt

The presidential victory of Uhuru Kenyatta, who is accused of crimes against humanity, was upheld Saturday by the Kenyan Supreme Court after election-rigging accusations were made against him.

The Supreme Court of Kenya has unanimously upheld the election victory of Uhuru Kenyatta as the country's president, dismissing allegations that the vote was rigged.

But almost immediately after the ruling Saturday, protests erupted in some opposition strongholds, with stone-throwing mobs squaring off against police officers toting Kalashnikov rifles. Three protesters were shot and killed by the police in Nairobi, The Associated Press reported, and two people were killed and five seriously injured in riots in the lakeside city of Kisumu, the hometown of Prime Minister Raila Odinga, who lost the election to Mr. Kenyatta.

On Sunday, the Kenyan police deployed forces in Nairobi and Kisumu to contain the continuing threat of violence, The A.P. reported, but the country remained mostly peaceful.

Despite the ruling in his favor, Mr. Kenyatta's legal battles are hardly over. As Kenya's next president, Mr. Kenyatta will soon be summoned to the International Criminal Court in The Hague to stand trial on charges of crimes against humanity, accused of using his vast family fortune to bankroll death squads during the chaos that exploded after Kenya's last disputed election, in 2007. He says that he is innocent and that the charges are based on gossip. But many Western officials believe otherwise, and already the Obama administration has gotten off on the wrong foot, sending the signal that it hoped Mr. Kenyatta would lose.

The United States now may have little choice but to work with Mr. Kenyatta because Kenya is one of its closest allies in Africa, serving as a base for activities including billion-dollar health programs and spying on agents of Al Qaeda. When it comes down to it, several analysts have said, the United States actually needs Kenya more than Kenya needs the United States.

Both the U.S. and British governments, which had not congratulated Mr. Kenyatta when he was declared the winner in early March, issued statements Saturday night congratulating him.

On Saturday afternoon, in front of a hushed courtroom, Kenya's chief justice, Willy Mutunga, read out the verdict upholding Mr. Kenyatta's victory, saying that the election, held nearly four weeks ago, had been conducted "in compliance with the Constitution and the law."

The second-place finisher, Mr. Odinga, seemed to finally swallow his defeat. He had accused the Kenyan election commission of conspiring with Mr. Kenyatta to steal the vote. In the past week, in heated hearings in front of the Supreme Court, Mr. Odinga's lawyers presented evidence of questionable vote tallying.

The Supreme Court itself concluded that there had been dozens of errors, though it appears the justices did not feel those errors would have changed the outcome -- or they were wary of dragging out what had already become a long and tortuous election period. …

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