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Kenya's Supreme Court Election Ruling Expected To Anger Opposition


There is clarity in Kenya this morning about that country's leadership.


Clarity, at least according to the country's Supreme Court, which has thrown out a challenge to last month's presidential election, the second presidential election. This was a redo. So the declared winner, Uhuru Kenyatta, will be sworn in as president.

MARTIN: That's not going to go over too well with the opposition party there, which insists that both of Kenyatta's victories were fraudulent. This caps a violent three months in that country. Dozens of people have been killed in violence since the first vote was held back in August. We're going to go to Nairobi now and NPR's East Africa correspondent Eyder Peralta, who has been covering this.

Eyder, where are you right now? And what are the conversations that you're having?

EYDER PERALTA, BYLINE: Hi, Rachel. I'm in Kibera, which is one of the big slums here in Nairobi. And you know, you probably hear a lot of quiet here. And it is. It's very eerie feeling right now. There's - you know, the pavement is charred, and there's still some fires. And, you know, one of the telephone - one of the electricity poles has been brought down to set up a roadblock.

And we've had to move away because we heard some gunfire. And police are engaging with demonstrators deep in the slum. You know, one young man came running from the other side of where we are. And his shoes were just - you know, they were full of blood. And you know, what he's saying is that this government is killing their people, you know.

But other parts of this country are celebrating. Just earlier, I was in downtown Nairobi, and people were singing. And they were dancing. And they were celebrating the fact that this president - that their president has been given a victory by the Supreme Court.

MARTIN: So different opinions depending on where you are. But just remind us - what was the case against Kenyatta?

PERALTA: So as you mentioned in the intro, this is, you know, the second time that this country has held presidential elections in three months. And two petitioners said that this election was held under an atmosphere that was not constitutional. There was violence, and there was intimidation. And the Supreme Court prohibits that. The Supreme Court says that they must be held under peaceful conditions.

But the court actually did not explain why, this time around - they threw out the first elections citing irregularities. But this time around, they decided to uphold the elections. But they did not tell us why. They said that the cases did not have any merit and upheld the elections. The big deal for this is that this is the end of the legal line. This is the end of the constitutional line. It means that the opposition has no more options legally. And

you know, I think the fear here is that it will be, you know - that this will be settled on the streets. And we've already seen an incredible amount of violence this weekend.


PERALTA: You know, more than 32 people have been killed here in Nairobi this weekend alone.

MARTIN: Eyder, have we heard from Raila Odinga? This was the opposition candidate who's called into question the legitimacy of these votes. Has he spoken out now that the Supreme Court has ruled against him essentially?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (Foreign language spoken).

PERALTA: He spoke through his spokesman. And his spokesman said that they will continue to insist that President Uhuru Kenyatta is an illegitimate president and that they will announce what they say is the way forward soon.

So I think Kenya - you know, while there is a lot of closure here with this case, again, we've been at this for more than three months. But at the same time, you know, a lot of the slums surrounding Nairobi, the opposition strongholds in western Kenya - they're on fire - quite literally on fire. So I don't think there's much closure when it comes to that.

MARTIN: Now that Kenyatta is positioned to be the leader of Kenya, what will that mean for the people who live there - who live in that slum where you are now? I mean, you say it's on fire currently. Is life going to improve now for those people?

PERALTA: They don't think so. You know, I spoke to a lot of supporters of Uhuru Kenyatta. And - hey, Rachel...


PERALTA: ...I'm going to have to move right now. There's a lot of movement...

MARTIN: Things are in flux.

PERALTA: ...Right now coming in. I think police are moving in.

MARTIN: Go ahead. Do that.

PERALTA: So people are running. So I'm moving as I'm talking to you. But - you know, people - I think what's going on here is...

MARTIN: Move, Eyder, into a safe position, and we'll find you when it's safe.

PERALTA: Yeah. Yeah, I'm moving. Yeah, I'm moving. It's not - you know, people are very jumpy right now is what it is. Right?


PERALTA: I mean, you know, what we're seeing right now - you can probably hear it - it's riot police coming into the slum. And you know, earlier, we heard lots of gunshots. But people - it's a tense time here in Kenya right now. And I think the reason for that - I think it's worth reminding people that in 2007, more than a thousand people were killed after a disputed election. And right now we just have a lot of things happening in this country and a lot of triggers, you know.


PERALTA: Uhuru Kenyatta's supposed to be inaugurated next week, and that is yet one more thing that can set off things here in Nairobi and in Kenya.

MARTIN: And things are fragile there and sensitive. Eyder Peralta is in Nairobi in a slum where riot police have just descended to break up protesters. The Supreme Court there ruling that Uhuru Kenyatta will be the ruler of that country.

Eyder, thanks so much for your reporting. We'll check back in with you as this story unfolds.

PERALTA: Thank you, Rachel. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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