Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, who was formally declared winner of the country's repeat presidential election on Monday, promised to abide by the constitution if his victory in the re-run is challenged in court.
Independent Electoral and Boundary Commission (IEBC) chairman Wafula Chebukati announced that Kenyatta garnered 7.48 million, or 98.26 percent, of the total votes cast, with his National Super Alliance (NASA) rival, Raila Odinga, only managing 73,228 votes, or about 1 percent.
The opposition leader had rallied his supporters to boycott the Oct. 26 balloting, which was marred by low turnout and violent protests in opposition strongholds.
"The total votes cast were 7.62 million and rejected ballots 37,713. This translates into a national voter turnout of 38.84 percent," Chebukati said. Some 19.6 million Kenyans registered as voters.
Chebukati said the repeat poll was free and fair despite opposition complaints over the vote that led to it boycotting the process.
"I am satisfied that we were able to meet conditions that enabled the commission to deliver a free, fair and credible election," he said.
In his acceptance speech, Kenyatta said his victory is likely to be subjected to a constitutional test through the courts.
He promised to submit to this legal path no matter its outcomes.
"If we remain committed to constitutionalism, the rule of law, respect for independent institutions and respect for human life, our democratic resilience will be assured. And this is my commitment to the General Will of All," said Kenyatta.
Kenyatta said despite the fact that his major competitor went to court demanding the presidential election be nullified and was granted that annulment, Odinga chose to ignore the rest of the ruling which ordered a fresh election in 60 days conducted by IEBC.
"Thereafter he chose to abandon the fresh poll. You cannot choose the opportunity to exercise a right and abscond from the consequences of that choice," Kenyatta said.
Kenyatta thanked the many voters who turned up in the fresh elections to exercise their democratic right despite violent intimidation.
"I celebrate our resilience as a nation. I celebrate the resilience of our democracy, the resilience of our people and the resilience of our institutions," he said. "Our democratic resilience will not tire. It will not give in to obvious provocations and a base invitation to politics of darkness."
"For those who voted for Jubilee by way of re-validating our Aug. 8 victory, I thank you. Now we can begin the process of re-imagining our nationhood," Kenyatta said, referring to his ruling party.
IEBC Vice Chairperson Consolata Nkatha said the election failed to take place in 25 constituencies, all located in Odinga's political bedrock of Western Kenya, after protesters prevented polls opening by blockading polling stations or intimidating voters.
The commission said those results from Kisumu, Migori, Siaya and Homabay counties would not affect the final outcome so it could proceed with its announcement.
"The commission could not immediately determine an appropriate and practical time in compliance with Section 55 (b) of the Election Act which requires that when an election is postponed it should be held at the earliest practicable time," Nkatha said.
Odinga's withdrawal from the fresh presidential race 16 days to the election, though anticipated, had sparked uncertainties in the country's body politic, economy, social cohesion and diplomatic engagement. He is due to speak later this week on the way forward.
The Supreme Court on Sept. 1 annulled the results of the Aug. 8 presidential polls where the incumbent Kenyatta was declared the winner.
Judges of the apex court based their decision to invalidate Kenyatta's victory on what were described as gross malpractices by the electoral agency that included tampering of results tallying and transmission infrastructure, and ordered the IEBC to conduct fresh presidential elections within 60 days.
Announcing the election results on Monday, Chebukati said his commission worked under difficult conditions but managed to deliver a free, fair and credible election, noting that Kenyatta had cleared the threshold of winning 25 percent of the votes cast in more than 24 counties.
He said the electoral agency took reform measures this time around, including the provision of more electronic kits, gadgets and wider mobile telecom coverage and extensive training of poll officials.
"I can confidently say that on Oct. 26, we did everything to ensure every Kenyan was able to practice his/her right. We discharged our mandate. Unfortunately not all Kenyans exercised their rights but I respect their choice," said Chebukati.
(Xinhua News Agency, October 31, 2017)