Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta has been re-elected for a second term after securing more than 98% of the vote in a highly-contentious rerun election that was boycotted by his main opposition rival.
The announcement caps months of drama and sporadic bouts of deadly violence following a landmark decision by the country’s Supreme Court to nullify the previous election in September, which Kenyatta also won, citing irregularities.
On Monday, Kenya’s Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) announced 56-year-old Kenyatta had received 98.25% of votes cast in last week’s rerun. His main rival, 72-year-old veteran opposition leader Raila Odinga who refused to participate in the poll, garnered just 0.96% of the vote.
Turnout for the election – in which voting had been indefinitely suspended in several protest-hit constituencies – was low, with just 38% of the country’s 19.6 million registered voters casting a ballot, according to the IEBC’s final tally.
The IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati, however, said that he was satisfied the voting body had delivered “a free, fair and credible election.”
Poll reveals a deeply polarized Kenya
The opposition parties, including Odinga’s National Super Alliance (Nasa) coalition, now have seven days in which to contest the result by launching a legal challenge, Kenya’s Ministry of Information told CNN. The courts then have 14 days in which to rule on such petitions.
Kenya’s Supreme Court previously overturned the original August 8 results that handed victory to Kenyatta after Odinga claimed the results had been hacked.
When the IEBC failed to provide Kenya’s highest court with access to its computer servers, the court ruled the results were fraudulent and ordered a rerun within 60 days.
The vote was held on October 26, but Odinga had earlier announced he was quitting the rerun because the IEBC had not adequately implemented reforms.
Odinga urged his supporters to boycott the election, and activists tried to stop the vote.
Odinga told CNN on Friday that the low turnout amounted to a “vote of no confidence” for Kenyatta and his administration, adding that the opposition would pursue all legal avenues available to put the government under pressure going forward.
This view was disputed by Kenya’s deputy president William Ruto, who on Sunday repeated a claim that low voter turnout was due to “orchestrated” violence, “sponsored” by the opposition party. Odinga, Ruto said, “organized militia” to prevent election officials and materials from their polling stations.
Violent clashes have broken out over the election, with 24 people killed in the immediate wake of the initial vote, according to the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights. At least six have died in connection to the runoff, officials said.
The politically motivated violence has renewed tensions between Kenya’s ethnic groups, whose bonds are often stronger than the national identity. Kenya has at least 40 ethnic groups.
Kenyatta is a member of the country’s largest community, the Kikuyu, originating in the country’s central highlands. The Kikuyu have long been accused of wielding strong economic and political power in the country.
Odinga is part of the Luo community, which some say has become increasingly marginalized in recent years.
CNN’s Farai Sevenzo and Dominique van Heerden reported from Nairobi, Faith Karimi and Dakin Andone wrote from from Atlanta while Laura Smith-Spark and Angela Dewan contributed from London.