Uhuru Kenyatta has won Kenya’s presidential election despite facing an international crimes against humanity trial, provisional results showed today, as his main rival refused to concede, raising tensions following the key poll.

While supporters of Kenyatta, son of Kenya’s founding president and one of Africa’s richest men, danced in the streets, followers of his arch-rival Raila Odinga seethed at the results.

The reactions of the rival camps are being closely watched in Kenya, where deadly violence erupted after disputed December 2007 elections, shattering the country’s image as a beacon of regional stability.

Kenyatta took 50.03 per cent of the vote, according to the election commission figures, to become the African country’s new leader 50 years after his independence hero father, Kenya’s founding president.

The 51-year-old outgoing deputy prime minister – charismatic, able to appeal to all classes and one of Africa’s richest and most powerful men – is the first man to win a presidency whilst facing trial in The Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC).

But Odinga, the outgoing prime minister who trailed in second place in the vote, has not conceded defeat and is expected to challenge the results in court.

Kenyatta, whose first name means “freedom” in Swahili, beat 68-year-old Odinga on his third failed bid at the top job by over 800,000 votes.

Excited crowds of thousands chanting Kenyatta’s name poured onto the streets of towns across the country shortly after figures were released in today morning, dressed in the red colours of Kenyatta’s party.

But Kenyatta, who won 6,173,433 votes out of a total 12,338,667 ballots cast, only just scraped through the 50 percent threshold needed to avoid a second-round runoff by just over 4,000 votes.

He and running mate William Ruto – who also faces an ICC trial later this year for violence after polls five years ago – said in a statement they were “proud and honoured for the trust being put on them” by the Kenyan people.

Odinga took second place with 43.28 percent with a total of 5,340,546 votes.

(This article was published on March 9, 2013)
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