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By Ray Fleming

Most informed observers asked to name the most economically and politically progressive nation in Africa (excepting South Africa) would probably choose either Ghana or Kenya. Ghana has shown it can change governments in an orderly way and is benefitting from off-shore oil resources. Kenya is at the centre of regional and continental developments and many Western companies are heavily involved and dependent on its economic and democratic stability.

The Kenyan presidential election last weekend resulted in a victory for Uhuru Kenyatta by a margin of about eight thousand votes in twelve million; his opponent Raila Odinga has said the voting was flawed and that he will appeal against the result to the country's Supreme Court. Considering that a similarly close result in the 2007 elections led to the killing of more than one thousand people in sectarian riots, it is understandable that the country is on edge. The situation is complicated by the fact that in July Mr Kenyatta will face charges of crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court for his role in the earlier riots. The UN, EU, Britain and the United States have pointedly refrained from congratulating him on his victory although the African Union and many African states have done so. The utmost care on all sides is needed if this delicate national and international situation is to be prevented from dangerous disintegration.