Kenya’s Deputy President Ruto Has Been Declared The Winner Of The Election
There has been a close presidential election in Kenya and the chairman of the electoral commission has declared Deputy President William Ruto the winner over five-time contender Raila Odinga.
This is a triumph for the man who reshaped politics by appealing to struggling Kenyans on economics, not on ethnicity.
According to the chairman, Ruto received 50.49% of the vote, while Odinga received 48.85% of the vote.
However, just before the declaration, chaos broke out when the vice-chair of the electoral commission and three other commissioners told journalists that they could not support the “opaque nature” of the final phase of the election.
Kenya’s Deputy President Ruto Has Been Declared The Winner Of The Election
As vice chair, Juliana Cherera said, “We are not in a position to take ownership of the results that are going to be announced,” but she did not specify what those results would be. In a chaotic scene at the venue of the official declaration, police surged to impose calm amid shouting and scuffles before the electoral commission’s chair Wafula Chebukati announced the official results, adding that the two commissioners still present had been injured.
There was an abrupt split in the commission minutes after Odinga’s chief agent said they could not verify the results and that they raised allegations of “election offenses” without providing any evidence or details about them.
The venue for the declaration was not attended by Odinga.
In the meantime, Kenyans are waiting to find out whether the opposition leader will once again go to court to contest the results of Tuesday’s peaceful election in a country that is vital to regional stability.
As of this writing, it is likely that this will be the last attempt for the 77-year-old longtime opposition figure, backed this time by the former adversary and outgoing President Uhuru Kenyatta, who split with his deputy, Uhuru Ruto, years ago.
In a tweet on the day of the elections, Odinga spokesman Makau Mutua said: “Any results that Chairman Wafuka Chebukati announces are invalid because he did not have a quorum of commissioners to hold a plenary and make such a weighty decision. The ongoing process at Bomas is now ILLEGAL.”
In the event that any challenge is filed against the results of the election, candidates or others have seven days to do so. In order for the Supreme Court to rule, it will have 14 days to do so.
In spite of being sidelined by the president, Ruto, 55, fought back and told voters the election was between the “hustlers” like him who come from modest backgrounds and the “dynasties” of Kenyatta and Odinga, whose fathers were Kenya’s first president and vice president respectively.
For a quarter of a century, Odinga has been seeking the presidency of the country.
“Gratitude goes out to millions of Kenyans who refused to be confined to tribal cocoons by their tribal leaders in the midst of an election that focused on issues rather than ethnic divisions,” Ruto said in his acceptance speech, thanking Odinga and emphasizing that the election was a political contest based on issues rather than ethnic divisions.” According to him, those who acted against him “have nothing to fear… There is no place for vengeance.”
There was a drop in turnout to 65% in this election, which reflects both the tiredness of Kenyans seeing the same longtime political figures on the ballot and frustration with the poor economic conditions in East Africa’s economic hub.
It is often the case that Kenyan politics are marked less by ideological platforms than by alliances that create a path to power and the wealth that can come along with it at the top of the game.
Kenyans also appeared wary after the Supreme Court earlier this year blocked Kenyatta’s attempt to make major changes to the constitution by, among other things, creating a prime minister post, which some Kenyans feared Kenyatta would fill if Odinga won the election last year.
There is no doubt that Odinga, who is famous for his years of detention during his struggle for multiparty democracy decades ago, and who supported Kenya’s groundbreaking 2010 constitution, appears to many Kenyans now as part of the establishment for supporting the proposed constitutional changes.
In contrast, Ruto portrays himself as a brash outsider, and despite his current post and wealth, he still plays up his chicken-selling childhood despite his current position. The careers of both men were fundamentally shaped by former President Daniel Arap Moi, who mentored Ruto and ruled over a one-party system that Odinga fought to overthrow.
By posting the more than 46,000 election results forms from around the country online, the electoral commission improved its transparency in this election and effectively invited Kenyans to do the counting themselves.
As a first step, the public had the opportunity to follow the electoral process as sometimes skittish local media houses and even individuals compiled and shared findings as a check on the official process for the first time.
Several of these counts showed Ruto to be in the lead, but the race remained so close that supporters of each candidate gathered in their strongholds hours before the declaration of victory in anticipation of victory.
There were emptied streets in parts of the capital, Nairobi, as well as other cities, and businesses were closed as well.
It has been almost a week since the Kenyans received the official results of the election and both Odinga and Ruto have appealed for peace, echoing the calls of the police, civil society groups, and religious leaders in a country characterized by political violence in the past elections.
After the 2007 election, more than 1,000 people were killed after Odinga claimed victory had been stolen from him, in what was widely regarded as a compromised election.
It was reported that Ruto, then Odinga’s ally, was indicted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity for his role in the violence, however, the case was terminated amid allegations of witness intimidation.
In the aftermath of the 2017 election results being overturned by the high court due to irregularities, a first in Africa, Odinga boycotted the fresh vote that Kenyatta won and proclaimed himself as the “people’s president” in a ceremony that prompted accusations of treason against him.
As a result of the unrest in which dozens of people were killed, Odinga and Kenyatta publicly shook hands to establish calm.
There is a desire among Kenyans for that calm to continue. Richard Osiolo, a resident of the western Nyanza region of the country, said over the weekend, “Leaders are there to come and go.” He dismissed the need for fighting, saying that rival candidates will end up making peace at the end of the day.
If I stay alive, I will be able to see you lead, whether you are good or bad, and then I will have another chance to choose another leader.”
The two candidates vowed to help the poor people of Kenya if they were elected. There is no doubt that Odinga has promised government handouts to families below the poverty line, while Ruto has promised that the government will spend more than $1 billion a year in order to create more jobs in a country where more than a third of young Kenyans are unemployed.
During the election, social media was not blocked by the government. In a region in which long-time leaders such as Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and Rwandan President Paul Kagame are widely accused of overseeing elections that are not fair and free, Kenya is generally seen as a relatively democratic and stable country.