NAIROBI, March 10 – Kenya’s press on Sunday called for reconciliation between the winners and losers in the presidential election, but calm prevailed in the country the day after results were declared, in striking contrast to the aftermath of the 2007 polls.
“The country is split right down the middle on tribal and economic lines,” the Standard said in an editorial, calling on president-elect Uhuru Kenya to mend the divisions.
The Sunday Nation said the conciliatory tone adopted by Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto in their acceptance speeches was “certainly a good start toward confronting the deep ethnic divisions in the country brought about by political competition”.
“We have demonstrated that we learned from the 2007 post-election violence that claimed the lives of 1,300 people and said ‘never again’,” it said.
The electoral commission announced Saturday that Kenyatta — who faces trial on charges of crimes against humanity over the 2007-08 violence — had scraped to a first round win over his main rival, Prime Minister Raila Odinga, in Monday’s election.
Odinga said he would contest the results in court, alleging “massive tampering” of the vote, but also appealed for calm.
Kenyatta, one of Africa’s richest and most powerful men, is due to go on trial at the International Criminal Court in July charged with orchestrating murder, forcible transfer and persecution.
“The violence of 2007-2008 and the wanton loss of both human lives and property taught all of us invaluable and enduring lessons,” said Ahmednasir Adullahi, a lawyer and publisher.
Commentators highlighted how the candidates had based their campaigns on ethnic blocs.
“Uhuru’s strategists outsmarted rivals by cobbling together a big ethnic bloc and scattering others,” wrote Makau Mutua, dean at SUNY Baffalo law school, also the Sunday Nation.