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In Kenya, dancing, doubt, and sighs of relief as Kenyatta wins presidency

Uhuru Kenyatta got 50.07 percent in an election that stood in sharp contrast to the 2007 vote, which saw deadly outbreaks of violence. His opponent has said he'll challenge the results. 

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“We saw the rigorous vote-counting process and I think the outcome is agreeable," he says. "I hope the president can create more jobs. He must also deal with insecurity cross the country.” 

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Odinga supporter Marita Odhiambo echoed his view. "This is a very peaceful process. We feel it in our hearts and even our minds," adding that she wants Kenyatta to focus on making education affordable for all Kenyans.

In his declaration of victory, Kenyatta tried to reach out to all his countrymen. “I will be a president of the 40 million Kenyans,” he said, referring to the total population.

"This is a coming of age for Kenya," he argued. "Despite the misgivings of many in the world, we have demonstrated a level of political maturity that surpassed expectation. We voted in peace, we upheld order and respect for the rule of law, and maintained the fabric of our society."

Many observers have questioned how the world will deal with the soon-to-be president, who has been indicted for crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court. But Kenyatta backers were not worrying about that on Saturday.

“I am very happy! I was in school during the last election which turned violent, but when I look at the way voted, I am convinced our country will progress,” says Kennedy Njuguna, a young florist selling roses and carnations at the Nairobi’s City Market. “I want him to ensure peace prevails and also deal with the 'big problem' of tribalism.”

For religious leaders, the peaceful outcome spoke to work they did ahead of the vote to encourage calm. 

Roman Catholic Bishop Cornelius Korir of Eldoret says Kenyans have spoken and those who lost should accept the results.

“I knew it will be peaceful long ago. We had done a lot peace building at the grassroots,” says Bishop Korir, whose area in Rift Valley suffered most of the violence in 2007.

That is good news for businesses as well. At a bazaar in Nairobi selling curios and handcrafts for tourists, Eunice Wanjiru had kept her business open out of confidence in her countrymen's ability to conduct a democratic and peaceful vote.

“I am happy,” says Ms. Wanjiru who voted for Jubilee Alliance. “This will help our business which depends a lot on tourists and foreigner.”

As for the kids, Kenyatta's win means one thing: the prospect of receiving solar-powered laptops, which the president-elect promised every school-going child.


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