Kenyatta's charges lead him to victory

2013-03-11 16:23
Gallery  |  click on thumbnail to view larger image

Kenyatta victory in Kenya elections

Uhuru Kenyatta, the son of independent Kenya's first president, was on Saturday declared winner of the country's tense elections. See all the pictures.

Nairobi - Far from having been a handicap, Uhuru Kenyatta's indictment for crimes against humanity galvanised his supporters, giving the already formidable machinery of his coalition the edge, analysts said.

Kenyatta, 51, was proclaimed president on Saturday after an outright win in the first round with 50.07% of the votes, against 43.31% for his main rival Raila Odinga, 68, who has vowed to take his complaint for "massive tampering" to the Supreme Court.

Uhuru Kenyatta should become the first presidential candidate to take power before having to fly off a few months later to appear in a trial likely to last at least two years, at the Hague-based International Criminal Court.

But far from deterring voters, the impending trial seems to have had the opposite effect.

"The ICC process helped" Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto, who is also indicted for his alleged role in the violence that followed the 2007 presidential poll, said Daniel Branch, an author and academic at Britain's Warwick University.

"It gave them a powerful message, a real motivation for victory and kept the debate on them the whole time. Odinga was unable to seize the initiative back," Branch went on.

Kenyatta's indictment enabled him to spin the narrative that his community had to "mobilise... against the enemy who took our son out of here," said Musambayi Katumanga, a political scientist from Nairobi University.

The ICC suspects Kenyatta of having paid the Mungiki, a sect-like criminal gang notorious for beheading its victims, to lead reprisal attacks and defend the Kikuyu community when Kenya was on the brink of civil war after the disputed 2007 poll.

The president elect rejects those accusations.

Kenyan voters may have wondered how Kenyatta and Ruto will manage the country from The Hague where they are supposed to appear in court in person, starting on 28 May for Ruto and 9 July for Kenyatta.

Gum, scaling stairs

Ruto, 46, famously explained that he was quite capable of doing the two things at the same time as "we can chew gum and scale the stairs at the same time".

Even in Kenyatta's camp, one quarter of his supporters admitted to wondering about the question, an opinion poll by Ipsos-Synovate in late February showed.

At the end of the day voters seem to have overcome their doubts.

The fact that several foreign diplomats and officials raised the ICC as an issue did not go down well with many Kenyans and likely strengthened Kenyatta's vote.

"People close to Kenyatta reckon that those declarations by diplomats helped them, for Kenyans are very proud and they remember that it is not so long since they belonged to the colonial empire of another power," said Tom Wolfe, chief analyst at Ipsos-Synovate.

But even if "the ICC cases played a prominent role in the campaigns... more than anything else Kenyatta's victory was the result of demographic providence and resources," said Ken Opalo, a political science doctoral candidate at Stanford University.

Ethnic bloc of votes

The alliance between Kenyatta and Ruto appears artificial given that their respective communities clashed violently in the Rift Valley in 2007-08.

But it gave Kenyatta's Jubilee coalition an ethnic bloc of votes that represented more than one quarter of Kenya's 41 million people.

According to Opalo, 87% of people eligible to vote in Kikuyu and Kalenjin areas registered to vote, against 78% in Odinga's strongholds.

"Jubilee ran a much better campaign. Ruto has supplanted Odinga as the most effective mobiliser of voters ... A combination of Ruto's skills and Uhuru's money was extremely effective," Daniel Branch said.

The fact that he belongs to one of Africa's richest families, whose fortune is estimated at $500m by Forbes Magazine, meant Kenyatta was able to throw money at the campaign, going as far as recruiting a British PR firm BTP Advisers.

His opponents, as well as some observers, have also spoken of voters bought, ID cards bought in order to prevent some voters from going to the polls, but it was not possible to verify the claims independently, to measure the scale of the alleged fraud nor to say whether it was the preserve of one camp.

Read more on:    uhuru kenyatta  |  kenya  |  kenya elections 2013  |  east africa

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.