Kibaki declared Kenyan leader amid clashes, protests


Nairobi : Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki was declared winner Sunday amid re-ignited violence around the country after a tight, tense presidential race was marred by allegations of fraud.

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As Kibaki’s supporters celebrated in the capital Nairobi, pro-opposition protesters countrywide took to the streets charging the vote was rigged.

Leaders had appealed for calm before Kibaki was declared winner, but local media reported riots had erupted in parts of the capital, as well as in Kisumu, a stronghold of defeated opposition candidate Raila Odinga.

Thick black smoke billowed from Kibera, East Africa’s largest slum, while enraged residents of Kisumu attempted to storm the central police station, local station NTV reported.

At least 10 people have been killed in three days of widespread outrage that has marked a disturbing change in the relatively stable country seen as a beacon of hope in a troubled region.

Tribal fighting was also sparked, with Odinga’s ethnic Luo supporters and Kibaki’s Kikuyu backers burning homes and looting stores in slums around Nairobi.

Kibaki won by some 200,000 votes over Odinga, who had led by a margin of between 1 million and 38,000 votes until Sunday evening.

The 76-year-old garnered 4.58 million votes to Odinga’s 4.35 million and was declared winner following a tumultuous three days after Thursday’s polls that saw ethnic violence break out countrywide between rival supporters and elicited accusations of incitement and graft from both sides.

“The commission declares honourable Mwai Kibaki the president of Kenya,” said Samuel Kivuitu, the chairman.

Odinga was ahead in most opinion polls before the vote as well as in the ballot counting and his supporters have alleged Kibaki’s win is due to vote rigging, alleging some 300,000 votes added to his tally.

A spokesman from Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) would not comment on the results but said the feeling among the ODM members was “not so good”.

The European Union’s election observer team voiced concern over the polls, with its chief, Alexander Graf Lambsdorff saying “some doubt remains as to the accuracy of the result of the presidential election”.

Kibaki took his oath of office mere hours before his term as president was to expire Sunday night.

“I stand before you humbled and grateful for the opportunity you have given me to serve you again as your president for a second five-year term,” Kibaki said.

“I urge all of us to set aside the passions that were excited in the re-election process and work together as one people,” he said.

Earlier, Kivuitu was rushed out of the commission’s briefing room by more than 20 paramilitary police when disputed presidential results sparked outrage among angry rival supporters and disrupted the commissioner from announcing the final result.

Odinga, the 62-year-old son of a leftist independence hero, touted himself as the people’s president and promised to bring change to a nation wracked by poverty and endemic corruption.

Kibaki pulled Kenya from the ruins of the kleptocratic regime of former president Daniel arap Moi, changing the country into a regional economic powerhouse, but failing to eliminate graft from his administration.

Kibaki’s cabinet was virtually decimated in parliamentary polls with some 20 ministers booted from their parliamentary seats.