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Kenya Re-Elects President In Contested Second Vote

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Kenya's sitting president Uhuru Kenyatta was re-elected for a second term for the second time since August.

The initial election in August saw Kenyatta win in a 1.4 million lead over opposition party-leader and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga with a voting turnout of 80 percent. Following criticism by Odinga over voting and the role of the electoral commission, the Kenyan Supreme Court nullified the results in September, The Washington Post reports.

Odinga announced he was withdrawing from the campaign in early October. This move essentially guaranteed Kenyatta's win by leaving him to face off with only six minor candidates, Reuters reports.

Odinga claimed to have left his campaign because the electoral commission would be biased against him. He said he wished to turn his party into a "resistance movement," and encouraged his fellow Kenyans to boycott the upcoming election, according to The New York Times.

Election officials didn't ease tensions in the days leading up to the election. One left for the U.S. after receiving death threats and another, Wafula Chebukati, expressed concerns that political interference in the electoral commission might undermine the vote.

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Stoking even more controversy was the closure of 3,635 out of 41,000 polling locations due to violence caused by opposition protests, according to The Washington Post.

Kenyatta took the Oct. 26 vote by a landslide, whipping up 98 percent of the votes. Despite pulling out of the election, Odinga's name still appeared on the ballot and garnered more than 73,000 votes, The New York Times reports.

Voter turnout was only 39 percent, less than half of that of the previous election, The Post reports.

On Oct. 30, Odinga called for the vote to be nullified and for the electoral commission to “carry out a credible election in 90 days." This is unlikely to happen, as it would require the Supreme Court to again ask for another vote.

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In the wake of the political crisis, civilian violence and political disputes have plagued the East African nation, harming businesses and the economy. International officials say at least 14 people have been killed since the Oct. 26 vote. Government figures put the death toll at 10, while civil rights groups place the post-election death count at the hands of police at 70, The New York Times reports.

The exact count is not yet known. Some worry the violence has taken an ethnic turn. Odinga condemned the violence in one of Kenya's most affected regions, according to Reuters. 

When asked whether he would engage with the opposition leader, Kenyatta said he would want to "first and foremost exhaust the constitutionally laid out processes."

"I am not going to jump the gun," Kenyatta said after his victory.

Sources: The Washington Post, The New York Times, Reuters / Featured Image: Uhuru Kenyatta/Flickr / Embedded Images: Michael Wuertenberg​ via World Economic Forum/Flickr, ITU Pictures/Flickr

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