Kenya’s Ruto declared president-elect amid results chaos

Deputy President William Ruto was Monday declared the winner of Kenya’s hard-fought presidential poll but the announcement was mired in controversy after several members of the election commission rejected the results.

Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) chairman Wafula Chebukati said Ruto had won almost 7.18 million votes (50.49 percent) in the August 9 vote, against 6.94 million (48.85 percent) for his rival Raila Odinga.

“In accordance with the law, I… hereby declare that Ruto William Samoei has been duly elected as the president.”

Ruto is a 55-year-old rags-to-riches businessman who had characterized the vote as a battle between ordinary “hustlers” and “dynasties” who had ruled Kenya since independence from Britain in 1963.

“There is no room for vengeance,” Ruto said, adding: “I am acutely aware that our country is at a stage where we need all hands on deck.”

The days-long wait for the outcome of the race had already set the East African nation on edge.

“However we have an open door that people can go to court and because of the same we urge Kenyans to be peaceful because the rule of the law is going to prevail,” she added.

Although last Tuesday’s poll passed off largely peacefully in the regional political and economic powerhouse, memories of vote-rigging and deadly violence in 2007-08 and 2017 still loom large.

– Disenchantment –

Kenyatta, the 60-year-old son of the first post-independence president, has served two terms and could not run again.

Observers say that with the race so close, an appeal to the Supreme Court by losing candidate Odinga is almost certain, meaning it could be many weeks before a new president takes office.

Observers blamed disenchantment with the political elite, particularly among young people in a country battling a severe cost-of-living crisis and a punishing drought that has left millions hungry.

In a historic first for Africa, the result of the 2017 election was annulled by the Supreme Court after Odinga challenged the outcome.

Kenyatta went on to win the October rerun after a boycott by Odinga.


Originally published as Kenya’s Ruto declared president-elect amid results chaos


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