Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) chairman Wafula Chebukati claimed Ruto had won over 7.18 million votes (50.49 percent) in the August 9 elections, against 6.94 million (48.85 percent) for his competitor Raila Odinga.
Kenya election chief announces Ruto winner of the presidential contest
William Ruto has won the contest to be the fifth president of the East African nation, according to results issued by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) (IEBC). But four election commissioners stated they could not endorse the “opaque” vote count before the announcement, creating worries about what will happen next.
“There are no losers. The people of Kenya have triumphed because we lifted the political bar,” the president-elect remarked after the announcement on Monday. “There is no looking back, we are looking to the future, we need all hands on deck to move forward.” Ruto conducted a tight presidential contest against opposition leader Raila Odinga.
It was a slim margin of victory with Ruto collecting a little more than seven million votes and Odinga securing a little less than seven million, the IEBC chairperson remarked. Ruto earned 50.49 percent of the vote, while Odinga received 48.85 percent.
Chaos developed immediately before the declaration when the electoral commission’s vice chair and three other commissioners warned journalists they could not support the “opaque nature” of the last phase. “We cannot take ownership of the result that is going to be announced,” Deputy Chairperson Juliana Cherera stated.
At the declaration place, cops pushed to enforce order amid shouting as pushing and shoving occurred. Diplomats and international elections were taken out of the tallying hall before Chebukati spoke as scuffles broke out. Cherera urged the parties to pursue any problems through the courts. The unexpected split in the commission happened minutes after Odinga’s chief agent declared they could not check the results and made claims of “electoral offenses” without giving details or evidence. Odinga did not attend the location for the proclamation.
Now Kenyans wait to see whether Odinga will again go to court to protest the results of last Tuesday’s peaceful election in a country essential to regional stability. It was likely the final try for the 77-year-old longstanding opposition figure backed this time by the erstwhile opponent and outgoing President Uhuru Kenyatta, who lost out with his deputy, Ruto, years ago.
Odinga spokesman Makau Mutua described the electoral commission chairperson’s pronouncement as “invalid since he had no quorum of commissioners to hold a plenary and make such an important decision”. “It is not over till it is over,” Odinga’s running mate Martha Karua, a former justice minister, tweeted. In Kisumu, an Odinga stronghold in the west of the country, the reaction was rapid. Several big plumes of smoke emerged over a roundabout as protestors burnt mounds of tires mid screams of “We need Raila now!”
Allegations of vote manipulation triggered rioting after the 2007 vote when more than 1,200 people were killed. In 2017, after the Supreme Court annulled the result over irregularities in the electoral process, more than 100 were killed. Ruto is a 55-year-old rags-to-riches businessman who had framed the vote as a war between ordinary “hustlers” and “dynasties” who had dominated Kenya since independence from Britain in 1963.
His election is a triumph for the man who shook up politics by appealing to poor Kenyans on economic terms and not on conventional ethnic ones. Turnout in this election dipped to 65 percent, showing the tiredness of Kenyans seeing the same old political leaders on the ballot and unhappiness with terrible economic conditions in East Africa’s economic powerhouse.