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Kenya winner nets 50.03% of vote

Published: Friday, March 8 2013 9:05 p.m. MST

On International Women's day a Kenyan woman transfers corn as men walk by election posters- covered tin walls  in the street of  the Kibera slum of Nairobi, Kenya, Friday, March 8, 2013. Kenyans on Monday held their first presidential vote since the nation's disputed election in 2007 spawned violence that killed more than 1,000 people.  Kenya's last ballots for its presidential race were being counted Friday and Uhuru Kenyatta, the leading candidate, saw his percentage yo-yo above and below the crucial 50 percent mark that would hand him an outright win and avoid a runoff.(AP Photo/Jerome Delay) (Associated Press) On International Women's day a Kenyan woman transfers corn as men walk by election posters- covered tin walls in the street of the Kibera slum of Nairobi, Kenya, Friday, March 8, 2013. Kenyans on Monday held their first presidential vote since the nation's disputed election in 2007 spawned violence that killed more than 1,000 people. Kenya's last ballots for its presidential race were being counted Friday and Uhuru Kenyatta, the leading candidate, saw his percentage yo-yo above and below the crucial 50 percent mark that would hand him an outright win and avoid a runoff.(AP Photo/Jerome Delay) (Associated Press)

NAIROBI, Kenya — Kenya's election commission posted complete results early this morning showing that Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta prevailed in the country's presidential elections by the slimmest of margins, winning 50.03 percent of the vote.

That result is likely to bring controversy in Kenya and an almost certain legal challenge from Prime Minister Raila Odinga. Kenyatta needed to break the 50 percent barrier to avoid a run-off with Odinga, but he did so by only 4,099 votes out of more than 12.3 million cast.

Monday's presidential vote was the first since Kenya's 2007 election sparked two months of tribe-on-tribe violence after a disputed election win was claimed by President Mwai Kibaki. More than 1,000 people were killed in attacks that included machetes, bows and arrows and police firearms.

A win by Kenyatta could greatly affect Kenya's relations with the West. Kenyatta 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.

Riot police patrol a street in Nairobi, Kenya Friday, March 8, 2013. The leading candidate in the race for Kenya's president is hovering around the 50 percent mark as ballots are counted on what officials say is the last day of the count.  The election commission said it expected to have final results by the end of Friday, though observers said it was still possible the count would go into the weekend. (AP Photo/Sayyid Azim) (Associated Press) Riot police patrol a street in Nairobi, Kenya Friday, March 8, 2013. The leading candidate in the race for Kenya's president is hovering around the 50 percent mark as ballots are counted on what officials say is the last day of the count. The election commission said it expected to have final results by the end of Friday, though observers said it was still possible the count would go into the weekend. (AP Photo/Sayyid Azim) (Associated Press)

The U.S. has warned of "consequences" if Kenyatta, the son of Kenya's founding father, wins, as have several European countries. Britain, which ruled Kenya up until the early 1960s, has said they would have only essential contact with the Kenyan government if Kenyatta is 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.

That the winner was quietly revealed overnight — at about 2:35 a.m. local time — came as somewhat of a surprise. At about midnight the electoral commission said it would give a formal announcement of the winner at 11 a.m. Kenya time (1 a.m. MST) today. Observers believed that the decision was made in part not reveal a winner overnight, something that could stir suspicions and put security forces at a disadvantage if rioting broke out.

Riot police patrol a street in Nairobi, Kenya Friday, March 8, 2013. The leading candidate in the race for Kenya's president is hovering around the 50 percent mark as ballots are counted on what officials say is the last day of the count.  The election commission said it expected to have final results by the end of Friday, though observers said it was still possible the count would go into the weekend. (AP Photo/Sayyid Azim) (Associated Press) Riot police patrol a street in Nairobi, Kenya Friday, March 8, 2013. The leading candidate in the race for Kenya's president is hovering around the 50 percent mark as ballots are counted on what officials say is the last day of the count. The election commission said it expected to have final results by the end of Friday, though observers said it was still possible the count would go into the weekend. (AP Photo/Sayyid Azim) (Associated Press)

In order to win outright, Kenyatta must not only get more than 50 percent of the vote but also must garner at least 25 percent of the vote in 24 out of Kenya's 47 provinces. Because of the way the election commission announced results, it was difficult to immediately determine if Kenyatta passed that bar.

Diplomats said they believed Odinga was not likely to protest the vote in a manner that would increase the chances of violence, but rather honor his pledge to respect the result and petition the courts with any grievances. Odinga scheduled a news conference for later this morning.

The Kenyan capital has been sleepy since Monday's vote for president, the country's first election since its 2007 vote sparked tribe-on-tribe violence that killed more than 1,000 people. But security forces in riot gear took to the streets Friday in regions of the city that could turn tumultuous after results are announced.

Member of presidential candidate Raila Odinga's campaign team and current Assistant Minister for Education Prof. Ayiecho Olweny interrupts a press conference by the election commission chairman to make allegations of electoral improprieties, at the National Election Center in Nairobi, Kenya Friday, March 8, 2013. Kenya's drawn-out race for president was coming down to the wire on Friday, with the leading candidate hovering right at the 50 percent mark needed to avoid a runoff with his top challenger. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis) (Associated Press) Member of presidential candidate Raila Odinga's campaign team and current Assistant Minister for Education Prof. Ayiecho Olweny interrupts a press conference by the election commission chairman to make allegations of electoral improprieties, at the National Election Center in Nairobi, Kenya Friday, March 8, 2013. Kenya's drawn-out race for president was coming down to the wire on Friday, with the leading candidate hovering right at the 50 percent mark needed to avoid a runoff with his top challenger. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis) (Associated Press)

The prime minister's supporters took to the streets in 2007 after Odinga said he had been cheated. In Kibera, Nairobi's largest slum and a bastion of Odinga support, many believe this year's results have been rigged as well.

The results showed Odinga with 43.3 percent.

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