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In Kenyan Election, Kenyatta Holds On To Razor-Thin Margin After Final Tally

A supporter celebrates on March 6, 2013 at a polling station in the Mathare slum of Nairobi.
Simon Maina
AFP/Getty Images
A supporter celebrates on March 6, 2013 at a polling station in the Mathare slum of Nairobi.

Update at 7:04 p.m. ET. All Votes Counted:

With all the votes in, Kenya's election commission says Uhuru Kenyatta appears to have won with the slimmest of margins. Kenyatta got 50.03 percent of the vote, the AP reports.

Reuters adds:

"Kenyatta, who faces international charges of crimes against humanity, secured 6,173,433 votes out of a total of 12,338,667 ballots cast, indicating that he had secured the more than 50 percent of votes needed for a first round win."

The AP says that Kenyatta's chief of opponent Raila Odinga "has indicated legal challenges could be filed."

Our Original Post Continues:

Kenya's election is still up in the air today. NPR's Gregory Warner tells our Newscast unit the result could affect the relationship the country has with United States.

Gregory filed this report:

"As the last votes are tallied the leading candidate Uhuru Kenyatta leaps and dives around the 50 pecent mark.

"He needs a clear majority to win or else the contest goes to a run-off election in April.

"A Kenyatta win could alter Kenya's relationship with the West.

"Kenyatta faces charges at the International Criminal Court for his role in instigating some of the violence that followed the country's disputed election in 2007. His trial begins this summer, raising the possibility that he would have to rule the country while in detention in The Hague.

"The US has warned of 'consequences' if Kenyatta wins but has indicated this country will not become a pariah state.

"Kenyatta's opponent has demanded the tally be stopped alleging voter fraud. "

The AP reports a final tally isn't expected until early Saturday. The wire service spoke to Tom Wolf, an electoral expert, who said chances are good that Kenyatta will take a victory.

"On a scale of zero to 10, it seems to be about a seven or eight that he'll probably just get over [the 50 per cent mark]," Wolf told the AP. "I would be a little bit more surprised if he didn't get over 50 than if he did, but neither one on the face of it would be a complete surprise."

The Guardian points out that a Kenyatta win would put both the U.S. and the candidate in an odd spot.

The U.S. needs Kenya and Kenya needs the U.S. The Guardian explains:

"Vital American interests include Kenyan cooperation in the fight against al-Qaida affiliates that have mounted attacks on western targets in Nairobi, Mombasa and in neighboring Somalia.

"Kenya's assistance and leadership is seen as crucial in the battle against Indian Ocean piracy and in tackling regional problems including violence and mass displacement in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The UN, which created the ICC, relies on bases in Kenya from which to help run big trans-national operations across the continent."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.