Kenyan election panel poised to announce Kenyatta as winner

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By CHRISTOPHER TORCHIA

Associated Press

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) – Kenya’s election commission on Monday prepared to declare President Uhuru Kenyatta as the winner of last week’s vote, seeking to end a fraught process during which the main opposition leader boycotted the election and said he would form a “resistance” movement to oppose the government.

The decision to announce results at 3:30 p.m. (1230 GMT) Monday will go ahead even though voting did not occur in two dozen out of Kenya’s 290 constituencies because of opposition protests, said Consolata Nkatha, a senior election official.

The commission cited an election law that says final results can be announced if the tally won’t be affected by the outcome in areas that have yet to vote, though opposition leader Raila Odinga has described the Oct. 26 election as a sham and called for another vote within 90 days. Odinga’s boycott meant that Kenyatta ran without a significant challenge after a bitterly contested election in August that was later nullified by the Supreme Court because of what it called “irregularities and illegalities.”

Opposition backers have clashed with police in some parts of Kenya since last week, and security forces on Monday used tear gas to disperse young men who threw stones after a government official visited a school in a Nairobi slum. The confrontation occurred in the capital’s Kawangware area, a frequent scene of unrest linked to last week’s presidential election.

Some students in uniform were seen running in an effort to escape the clash in Kawangware. A policeman carried one student to safety.

At least nine people have died in violence since the election Thursday. Some were shot by police; several died in fighting between different ethnic groups, highlighting the ethnic loyalties that drive Kenyan politics despite the disavowals of national leaders. Mobs have also looted shops and burned property in some areas.

The United States is deeply concerned by recent violence in Kenya and urged Kenyans to engage in dialogue “to resolve the deep divisions that the electoral process has exacerbated,” Robert F. Godec, the American ambassador in Kenya, said Monday.

Kenyan politicians and other leaders should condemn the violence, Kenyan security forces should act with restraint and protesters should exercise their right to demonstrate in a peaceful way, Godec said.

Kenyan police have used “unlawful force” against opposition supporters and bystanders after last week’s election, according to Amnesty International. The human rights group on Monday cited cases of “police brutality” as well as violence and intimidation by backers of both Kenyatta and Odinga.

Government officials in Kenya say opposition leaders have incited violence with incendiary rhetoric and that police and election workers have been attacked by mobs.

Kenyatta, who got 54 percent of the vote in August, is from the Kikuyu community; Odinga, who got nearly 45 percent in the earlier election, is a Luo.

Odinga and Kenyatta, who is poised for a second term, also faced off in a 2013 election similarly marred by opposition allegations of vote-rigging. The opposition leader also ran unsuccessfully in 2007 – ethnic-fueled animosity after that vote killed more than 1,000 people and forced 600,000 from their homes.

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