TIWI, Kenya -- Kenya's Supreme Court on Saturday unanimously upheld the results of this month's presidential election, dismissing a challenge by the runner-up and clearing the way for the inauguration of Uhuru Kenyatta, who has been charged with crimes against humanity.
The decision came despite evidence of voting irregularities and ballot rigging in some parts of the country. But the six-judge bench decided that the problems were not widespread enough to alter the outcome of the election. According to official results, Mr. Kenyatta won 50.07 percent of the vote.
It now remains to be seen whether Kenya will move forward peacefully or experience spasms of violence similar to those after the 2007 elections, which were also disputed. After the court decision, angry supporters of Prime Minister Raila Odinga, the runner-up, took to the streets in some Nairobi slums, and police fired tear gas at his supporters rallying outside the Supreme Court, according to The Associated Press.
Whether the violence spreads will depend on how Mr. Odinga and Mr. Kenyatta communicate to their supporters, analysts and election observers said. Odinga has publicly said he would respect the decision by the Supreme Court, regardless of the outcome.
"The election was conducted in a free, fair, transparent and credible manner in compliance of the constitution and all relevant provisions of the law," said Chief Justice Willy Mutunga, who read the decision.
Mr. Kenyatta and his vice president-elect, William Ruto, have been indicted by the International Criminal Court at The Hague, accused of financing mobs that killed more than 1,000 people after the 2007 vote. U.S. diplomats and those of other Western nations have warned that there could be consequences for Kenya if the pair won the election. Both have proclaimed their innocence and said they would fight the charges. Their inauguration is scheduled for April 9.
Mr. Kenyatta, 51, won the election with 50.07 percent of the vote, avoiding a runoff by 8,000 votes. Mr. Odinga received 43.3 percent in the election, in which more than 12 million Kenyans voted -- the biggest turnout in the country's history.
In a speech late Saturday, Mr. Kenyatta promised to "work with, and serve, all Kenyans without discrimination whatsoever," The Associated Press reported.
Mr. Odinga said he would accept the decision, adding that "the future of Kenya is bright. Let us not allow elections to divide us," the AP reported.
On Friday, the Supreme Court released the results after a recount of votes from more than 20 polling stations.
On Saturday, Chief Justice Mutunga said the court would provide a detailed explanation for its decision within two weeks.
Mr. Kenyatta's trial at The Hague is scheduled to begin in July, but his attorneys are asking ICC prosecutors to drop the charges. Earlier this month the court dropped charges against another of the accused, Francis Muthaura, the former chief of Kenya's civil service, after a key witness recanted his testimony. Some analysts have suggested that with Mr. Kenyatta as president, witnesses may fear testifying against him.