Saturday, March 2, 2024
Africa News


William Ruto has been declared the winner of Kenya’s presidential election, amid last-minute chaos as four senior election officials denounced the week-long count and disowned the result.

Official results showed that Ruto, the current deputy president, won 50.5% of the vote, beating the longtime opposition leader Raila Odinga and narrowly avoiding a run-off.


But chaos erupted minutes before the results were announced, with four out of seven electoral commissioners saying they disowned the outcome, which they termed “opaque”.

“We are not able to take ownership of the results that will be announced,” said the deputy chair of the electoral commission, Juliana Cherera.

The sudden declaration prompted fears that vote-rigging allegations could lead to a legal challenge or even deadly violence like the country witnessed after
2007 and 2017 presidential polls. Cherera tried to allay concerns by advising those involved to take their complaints to court.

As news of the results filtered through to Odinga’s stronghold of Kisumu, there were some outbreaks of violence. In one area, protesters congregated on a roundabout, throwing stones, setting tyres on fire and throwing up roadblocks with broken rocks.

“It was not free and fair. We were cheated,” Collins Odoyo, 26, an Odinga supporter, told AFP.

Some international analysts suggested that the commissioner’s move might be politically motivated. “The four commissioners criticising the vote count as opaque were appointed by [the outgoing president Uhuru] Kenyatta in 2018 and their intervention smacks of political interference from the Raila Odinga camp,” said Benjamin Hunter, an Africa analyst with Maplecroft, a UK-based consultancy.

Kenyatta had backed Odinga after falling out with Ruto. Odinga and Kenyatta come from two of Kenya’s wealthiest and influential families.

Kenyatta’s endorsement was expected to draw in support for Odinga from the Kikuyu community, which held a critical number of votes in the election. But Odinga’s community, the Luo, have been at political odds with the Kikuyu for decades, and a reconciliation between the two after a long rivalry was ultimately not enough to bridge the divide.

In the Kikuyu heartlands, Ruto swept the vote with his appeal to Kenyans on economic terms and not only traditional ethnic ones. “Ruto’s populist tenor convinced Kikuyu voters angry at the flatlining economy and Kenyatta’s alliance with Odinga to side with him,” Hunter said.

Despite the chaos surrounding the announcement, celebrations briefly broke out in parts of the country, including Kayole, a residential neighbourhood in Nairobi where Ruto and Odinga both have some support.

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