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Kenyan Elections Test Country's Future


Kenya seeks political solutions, but problems persist. Click to enlarge map
March 17, 2013 - Kenya's recent elections underscore the transition of this East African country.

Uhuru Kenyatta and running mate William Ruta eked out a small winning margin in the March 4 presidential election, taking 50.07% of the vote. But two major problems accompanied this slim victory.

First, opponent Raila Odinga has mounted a legal challenge, alleging vote fraud. He has asked the country's Supreme Court to nullify the vote and mandate a new election.

Also both Kenyatta and Ruta face charges of crimes against humanity in the International Criminal Court. These charges stem from post-election violence in 2007 that killed more than 1,000 people in inter-tribal violence.

Oil on the horizon

The stakes of the election loom large given the oil economics of the region. Oil is being found in the Rift Valley, with the capacity being estimated in the billions of barrels. Further exploration is taking place elsewhere in the country.

But Kenya's neighbor to the northwest, newly independent and landlocked South Sudan, is anticipating the construction of a pipeline from its oil fields to the Indian Ocean. South Sudan has had a serious conflict with its former encompassing county Sudan over oil, although a new agreement was recently announced. South Sudan is eager to establish new means of shipping its product to world markets. That country and investors are watching the outcome of the Kenyan elections to see how new oil infrastructure will be built and managed.


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