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Unrest In Nairobi After Kenya's President Wins Election Rerun

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Let's turn now to Kenya, where this is a tense moment. Kenya has declared a winner in a contentious rerun of its presidential election. The current President Uhuru Kenyatta won with 98 percent of the vote, but the country is still in political limbo because the opposition has once again called into question the legitimacy of this election. We're joined now by NPR's Eyder Peralta, who is in Nairobi. And, Eyder, this has been such an important but also complicated political story. Can you just remind us how we arrived here?

EYDER PERALTA, BYLINE: Yeah, it has. I mean, we've had just a ton of twists and turns, but it begins in August when the first presidential elections were held. Uhuru Kenyatta won but the Supreme Court found so many irregularities that they threw out that those results, and a rerun of the election was scheduled for the 26th of October. They faced one huge problem, which is that the opposition boycotted, but the electoral commission decided to press on. Election Day was chaotic. You had protesters throwing rocks at polling places. You had protestors blocking roads to keep elections material from getting to polling places. And it was so bad in some places that about 10 percent of Kenyans never got the opportunity to vote. The turnout, 38 percent. And that's pretty bad considering that Kenya is used to 75 percent or even 80 percent turnouts. But the electoral commission went ahead with the election and then declared a winner. The election chairman who just two weeks ago said he could not run a fair election because of the aggressive political interference he was getting, he just backed down. To applause and cheers, he said he was confident that this election was run appropriately and that Uhuru Kenyatta was the winner.

GREENE: Well, it sounds like you're out and about as we talk to you this morning. How are Kenyans reacting to this decision by the election commission and these results?

PERALTA: You know, this is what Nairobi on a regular day sounds like. You have matatus and buses. You have people walking the streets and you have shops that, you know, about half the shops are open. But, you know, yesterday during the results, everyone including the president called on Kenya to move on, to be peaceful. But that's not what happened last night. There were celebrations in the president's strongholds, but in the two big slums here in Nairobi, there was unrest. There was looting in one called Mathare (ph). And I was in Kibera, which is the same place I am at now. And, you know, what I saw was just heartbreaking. You had riot police just stationed at every corner, lots of them. And they made everyone turn off their lights in their homes and their cars, and it was really dark. And as people tried to make their way home, the police screamed at them and they banged at their shields, and they also banged on the aluminum siding of some of these stores. And, just to give you a sense, I cut a bit of audio of what happened yesterday. Let's listen to it.

(SOUNDBITE OF BANGING ON METAL)

PERALTA: You know, I saw one officer just repeatedly threaten a bunch of young men who were just - they were just walking home, and he would grab a tear gas canister and just hold it to their face and scream at them. And people were terrified. They just, you know, they were running home.

GREENE: OK. So the government, and this president who won a disputed election trying to move on. This doesn't sound like it's over at all, though.

(SOUNDBITE OF VEHICLE HORN HONKING)

PERALTA: It's not. That's the big question, you know, and everybody's waiting on what Raila Odinga, the opposition leader, has to say about all this. He's scheduled to speak later on tonight.

GREENE: All right. That is NPR's Eyder Peralta reporting on a tense moment in Kenya. Eyder, thanks so much.

(SOUNDBITE OF VEHICLE HORN HONKING)

PERALTA: Thanks, David. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.