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In Kenya, jubilation for Kenyatta after slim win

March 9, 2013: Supporters of Kenyan presidential candidate Uhuru Kenyatta celebrate what they perceive is an election win for him in Nairobi, Kenya.AP2013

Uhuru Kenyatta -- the son of Kenya's founding father and a man accused by an international court of helping orchestrate the vicious violence that marred the nation's last vote -- was certified as the winner on Saturday of Kenya's presidential election by the slimmest majority -- 50.07 percent.

Jubilant Kenyatta supporters dressed in the campaign's color of red flooded streets in their Nairobi strongholds on Saturday. Kenyatta's defeated rival, Prime Minister Raila Odinga, planned to hold a news conference to reveal his next step.

If Kenyatta's victory holds, the son of Jomo Kenyatta will become the fourth president of Kenya since its independence from British colonial rule in 1963.

Kenyatta's win could greatly affect Kenya's relations with the West. The president-elect faces charges at the International Criminal Court for his alleged role in directing some of Kenya's 2007 postelection violence. His running mate, William Ruto, faces similar charges.

The United States has warned of "consequences" if Kenyatta wins, as have several European countries. Britain has said it would have only essential contact with the Kenyan government if Kenyatta is president.

Government officials have been working for months to avoid the postelection violence that brought Kenya to the brink of civil war five years ago, when more than 600,000 people were forced from their homes. The election commission Saturday held a dramatic midday televised announcement where officials appealed to Kenyans to accept the results with grace.

"There can be victory without victims," said Ahmed Issack Hassan, the chairman of Kenya's Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission.

Francis Eshitemi, an Odinga supporter in Nairobi's largest slum, Kibera, said it was clear his candidate had lost in a free and fair election and that he expected him to concede.

"The problem is that Raila doesn't have the numbers. There were a few irregularities, but the gap between Raila and Uhuru is big," he said.

Isaac Khayiya, another Odinga supporter, said: "This time we want postelection peace, not war. We will be the ones to suffer if there is violence. For them -- Uhuru, Ruto, Odinga -- they have security and they are rich."

The final results showed that Kenyatta won 6,173,433 votes -- 50.07 percent -- to Odinga's 5,340,546 -- 43.3 percent. More than 12, 330,000 votes were cast, a record turnout of 86 percent registered voters.

Kenyatta's task was not simply to beat Odinga, but to get over the 50 percent mark and avoid a head-to-head runoff. Eight candidates ran for president.

Odinga's camp has indicated legal challenges could be filed. Monday's presidential vote proceeded mostly peacefully, but the counting process has been stymied by a myriad of break-downs and errors.