Kenya’s election commission has declared incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta as the winner of the country’s disputed presidential election.
“Having fulfilled the requirement by law… I therefore wish to declare Uhuru Kenyatta… as president-elect,” said polls commission chairman Wafula Chebukati on Friday.
Kenyatta won the Tuesday polls with 54.27 percent of votes, beating his rival Raila Odinga, who scored 44.74 percent, the commission said.
Following the announcement, angry protests erupted in Odinga’s strongholds. Reports say businesses are being looted and set on fire in the slum of Kibera in the capital city of Nairobi, while gunshots are heard in the port city of Kisumu.
In comments directed to opposition leader Odinga, Kenyatta called for national unity and peace.
“I reach out to you, I reach out to all your supporters. To our brothers, our worthy competitors, we are not enemies, we are all citizens of the same republic,” Kenyatta said.
Kenyatta, 55, the son of Kenya’s first president after independence from British colonial rule, campaigned on a record of key infrastructure projects – many backed by China – while claiming strong economic growth.
Odinga, 72, who is also the son of a leader of the independence struggle, presented himself as a champion of the poor and a fierce critic of corruption in the country.
A day after the vote, Odinga rejected the preliminary results which put Kenyatta in the lead, claiming that the election commission’s voting systems had come under cyberattack, leading to “massive and extensive” vote fraud.
“You can only cheat the people for so long,” the opposition leader said. “The 2017 general election was a fraud.”
The hacking claims prompted Kenya’s electoral commission to react and counter the allegations, assuring Kenyans that “all is well.”
Tensions have been high since late last month, when Chris Msando, a key administrator of the biometric voting system, was murdered.
Despite Odinga’s call for calm, a group of his supporters took to the streets to rally against the preliminary results. The protests, however, turned violent after police forces intervened and fired tear gas at the crowd.
Two protesters were killed in Nairobi as riot police opened fire during the clashes on Wednesday.
Kenyatta is broadly regarded as a representative of the nation’s largest ethnic group of Kikuyu, while Odinga is affiliated with the Luo voting bloc, which has never won a presidential race.
The top opposition candidate, who made his fourth presidential run, has further accused his rival of stealing victory from him through vote rigging both in the 2007 and 2013 polls.
In 2007, the disputed election led to two months of ethnically-driven political violence that killed nearly 1,100 people and displaced 600,000 others.