Kenya’s Deputy President William Ruto has been elected as the country’s next president, the electoral commission announced on Monday.
Ruto won with 50.49% of the vote, narrowly defeating veteran opposition leader and former prime minister Raila Odinga, who is running for his 5th election.
He won the seat in his first attempt, becoming Kenya’s fifth president since independence. Ruto’s party, the Kenya First coalition, won a majority of seats in the Kenyan senate, the second highest seat in the National Assembly.
The announcement of the results was more than two hours behind the constitutional deadline, and the country’s election commission was divided after four officials rejected commission chairman Wafula Chebukati’s results.
Rival officials held their own press conference at another venue disputing the official results. IEBC deputy chairman Juliana Cherera was among those who disagreed with the results, but did not provide any evidence of wrongdoing.
On Monday, Ruto’s rival Odinga’s coalition also rejected the results of the election, which had not been declared by Kenya’s Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).
Odinga’s chief agent Saitabao Kanchory told the press outside the national election center in Nairobi that they have not yet been able to verify the final result with their calculations.
“Once we see them, we want to verify them, when we verify them, we can inform and tell the people of Kenya because a result that cannot be verified is not a result.” Kanchori told reporters waiting for the announcement of the results.
After Odinga’s coalition rejected the results, the national computing center was briefly thrown into chaos, with fights breaking out and chairs being thrown at the building.
In his first speech since being declared the winner of the election, Ruto thanked the people of Kenya for voting for him as the country’s next leader.
“There is no loser in this election. The people of Kenya won because we raised the political bar. The Kenyan people are the biggest winners,” he said
He expressed his “thanks” to Kenyan citizens who “refused to be trapped in tribal cocoons”.
He also thanked his rival and veteran opposition leader Raila Odinga, saying: “We stuck to the issues and tried to sell an agenda to the Kenyan people during the campaign.”
“It was God who brought us here… my team and I will make sure that the sacrifices of many Kenyans are not wasted… I will run a transparent, open, democratic government and work with the opposition. to the extent that they provide control over my administration,” he added.
There was a divided reaction to the results of Kenya’s presidential election on Monday evening. Live pictures from Ruto’s hometown in Eldoret showed huge crowds celebrating and cheering for his victory.
However, protests started in Kisumu, Odinga’s stronghold. Live footage showed protesters protesting the election results, burning tires and billowing smoke.
So does Odinga’s aide Martha Karua It took to Twitter after the announcement of the results and said, “It’s not over until it’s over.”
Analysts had predicted that Odinga would win, given his performance feedback bit and the support he received from President Uhuru Kenyatta.
But Ruto’s populist “man of the people” approach, rejecting political dynasties and playing on the country’s anti-elite sentiment, endeared him to voters.
He managed to circumvent Kenya’s traditional dynastic politics to defeat Odinga, the son of Kenya’s first vice president.
During the campaign, Ruto described himself as “the boss”, noting his humble beginnings as a chicken seller who fought his way to the top of Kenyan politics.
Political analyst Herman Manyora told CNN before the election that “Ruto has excited the youth … almost euphorically.”
Ruto, a former lecturer with a doctorate in plant ecology from the University of Nairobi, has vowed to prioritize Kenya’s economy and “uplift ordinary citizens” as President.
He will be under pressure to provide solutions to Kenya’s pressing economic problems, including mounting debt, high food and fuel prices and massive youth unemployment.
Ruto has a long and varied history in Kenyan politics and was also tried alongside President Kenyatta at the International Criminal Court in the Netherlands in 2013 for alleged crimes against humanity following deadly 2007 election violence. However, the charges were later dismissed.