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Uhuru now hints at dialogue with opponents

President Uhuru Kenyatta receives a certificate from Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission chairman Wafula Chebukati (left) at the Bomas of Kenya National Tallying Centre on Oct 30 after the poll agency declared him winner of last week’s repeat presidential poll.  PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO | NMG
President Uhuru Kenyatta receives a certificate from Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission chairman Wafula Chebukati (left) at the Bomas of Kenya National Tallying Centre on Oct 30 after the poll agency declared him winner of last week’s repeat presidential poll. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO | NMG 

President Uhuru Kenyatta on Monday said he would respect the decision of the court should someone challenge his victory in the repeat presidential election even as he promised to open dialogue with the opposition.

Mr Kenyatta, who garnered 7.4 million or 98.2 per cent of total votes cast, said talk of dialogue with the opposition was premature and must await conclusion of the legal processes.

“If the repeat presidential election results are challenged in court, I will accept the judgment,” Mr Kenyatta said in his acceptance speech after he was declared the winner of the October 26 repeat poll.

Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) chairman Wafula Chebukati declared Mr Kenyatta winner in an election that was marked by poor voter turnout, which was partly attributed to a boycott of the poll by supporters of the National Super Alliance (Nasa).

Mr Chebukati made the announcement at the Bomas of Kenya, noting that he was satisfied the exercise was free, fair and credible. Mr Kenyatta’s votes, however, amounted to only 38 per cent of the total 19 million registered voters, said Mr Chebukati.    

A week prior to the October 26 presidential election, Mr Chebukati had declared he could not guarantee the credibility of the poll, casting doubt on the IEBC’s preparedness for the exercise.

“I am satisfied that the commission met demands I had made to enable us deliver a credible election. I assure Kenyans that this is a free, fair and credible election,” he said.Mr Kenyatta was declared winner with verified results from 266 of the 291 constituencies including the Diaspora.

The announcement was made without results from 25 constituencies in Kisumu, Siaya, Homa Bay and Siaya counties where a wave of protests prevented polling stations from opening.

In an earlier address, IEBC vice-chairperson Consolata Nkatha said results from the 25 constituencies would not affect the final tally.

“If we are to remain true to our constitution and rule of law, we must respect our independent institutions. The people of Kenya have decided,” Mr Kenyatta said in his acceptance speech.

The Supreme Court on September 1 annulled Mr Kenyatta’s re-election following the August 8 polls and ordered the IEBC to conduct fresh presidential elections within 60 days.

“I have upheld the law in all undertakings because as a lawyer I cannot contravene what I swore to defend,” Mr Chebukati said in reference to the Supreme Court order.

Since the ruling, the country has witnessed street demos called by the Nasa leadership who insisted that the fresh elections ought to be carried out by a reformed IEBC. The county has also witnessed claims of police brutality in Nasa strongholds.

Kenyans have been treated to increasingly divisive political rhetoric during the months-long electoral dispute that has since polarised the nation and sparked concern from the international community.

At the height of political temperatures, IEBC commissioner Roselyn Akombe resigned and fled the country, a move that the Jubilee and Nasa political camps gave clashing interpretations.

While Nasa said Dr Akombe’s claims that IEBC in its current state could not guarantee a credible poll, exonerated them, Jubilee claimed the resignation was a plot to stop the October 26 polls from taking place.

“People found a good punching bag in me but those in IEBC say I cannot be influenced. Being a punching bag, it is impossible to please everyone,” said Mr Chebukati in his opening remarks at the Bomas.

The ballot papers for the fresh presidential polls bore names of eight contestants including Mr Odinga who withdrew his candidature, insisting that he would only participate when the IEBC reforms its structures.

On the eve of the October 26 repeat presidential polls, Mr Odinga called on his supporters to boycott goods of those affiliated to the ruling Jubilee coalition.

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