NPR logo

Protesters Dispute Kibaki Victory in Kenya Election

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Protesters Dispute Kibaki Victory in Kenya Election


Protesters Dispute Kibaki Victory in Kenya Election

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript


The president of Kenya has taken the oath of office for a second term even as violent protests continue. As many as 100 people are reported dead since incumbent Mwai Kibaki claimed a dramatic come-from-behind victory over challenger Raila Odinga.

It was the tightest presidential race in Kenya's history. Fewer than 300,000 votes separated the two candidates in the final tally. But the losing candidate, his many supporters, and even international observers are questioning that tally.

NPR's Gwen Thompkins reports.

GWEN THOMPKINS: The resolution of Kenya's much-anticipated presidential election was a lot like a shotgun wedding. But the guns were pointed at the voters.

President MWAI KIBAKI (Kenya): As your president I will personally lead our country in promoting unity, tolerance, peace and harmony.

THOMPKINS: That's the groom, President Mwai Kibaki, speaking at a late afternoon ceremony at State House, Kenya's equivalent of the White House. Kbaki took the oath of office less than an hour after highly controversial results of the race were made public.

But his appeal for unity rang hollow throughout much of Kenya, where armed soldiers and police were in full force and where live television news broadcasts were snatched off the air.

In Nairobi's immense slum of Kibera there was unity all right. The people there said that Kbaki had stolen the election from the long-time front-runner Raila Odinga.

Mr. J.J. MENOTI(ph): (Unintelligible)

THOMPKINS: That's J.J. Menoti, but you can call him furious.

(Soundbite of angry crowd)

Mr. KELLY OMONDI(ph) (Protester): This is Raila's time. That's what I know. Raila's time to be president is now.

THOMPKINS: That's Kelly Omondi. He thinks the election results are bogus and that Kbaki should have conceded like a gentleman.

Mr. OMONDI: Remember, there are times when the USA, when Bush and Gore, when they're all fighting it out - you know, Al Gore, he conceded.

THOMPKINS: Even European and other international observers disputed the tallying of the vote.

Mr. JACK TUMWA (Electoral Commission of Kenya): Ladies and gentlemen, can we have order? Can we have order?

(Soundbite of crowd)

Mr. RAILA ODINGA (Presidential Candidate, Kenya): The figures of President Kbaki have been inflated by as much as 300,000 votes. That is the kind of reign(ph) that we are talking about.

THOMPKINS: That's Raila Odinga. He had been poised to become Kenya's first ethnic Luo president, but at the Electoral Commission Sunday he called vainly for a recount.

Mr. ODINGA: You can see the chairman here is under a lot of pressure, completely. But we want to tell the members of this commission the destiny of this country is in their hands.

THOMPKINS: The commissioners then quietly moved to another room at their headquarters and called Kbaki the winner by less than 300,000 votes. Within minutes riot police were on the streets and Kbaki was taking the oath of office.

Mr. ANDREW INDEGWA(ph): They are just going house to house.

THOMPKINS: Andrew Indegwa lives in the Kibera slum, which is dominated by Luos. He has a whole new set of problems with the Kbaki win. Indegwa is a Kikuyu from the same ethnic group as Kbaki, and he says the Luos are now out to hurt the Kikuyus.

Mr. INDEGWA: If they find any Kikuyu persons (unintelligible) around, they are just catching someone and starts cutting him. Many of our people have left. My wife, I don't know whether she is going to escape.

THOMPKINS: Kbaki has declared Monday a national holiday. And just in time, the Odinga camp has a big event planned. They're expecting to hold an alternative presidential inauguration for Raila Odinga.

Gwen Thompkins, NPR News, Nairobi.

Copyright © 2007 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.