William Ruto declared next president of Kenya, court challenges expected

·2 min read
AFP - SIMON MAINA

After six tense days of Kenyans waiting for the outcome, Kenya's Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission has declared William Ruto, the self-declared “hustler” and outgoing deputy president, the winner of the presidential election this evening.

According to the IEBC this Monday evening, William Ruto took 50.5 percent of the vote – some 7.1 million valid ballots – with his main rival Raila Odinga taking 48.9 percent.

Just before Ruto was declared winner, the IEBC vice-chair and three other commissioners told journalists at the Bomas of Kenya centre that they could not support the "opaque nature" of the final process.

Vice-chair Juliana Cherera announced; “We cannot take ownership of the result that is going to be announced."

Police reportedly jumped into action, but not before IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati announced the results, adding that two commissioners had been injured.

Kenyans went to the polls on 9 August to vote for one of four candidates to take the top seat, but the two main contenders, Ruto and arch-rival Raila Odinga were neck-and-neck as media houses began to post results following the close of polling stations.

Polling day was largely peaceful in the East African country, which is scarred by memories of post-election violence in 2007-2008 and 2017.

Tight race amongst rivals

The rivalry between former prime minister and veteran politician Odinga, 77, of the Azimio La Umoja alliance and Deputy President Ruto, 55, of the Kenya Kwanza alliance, increased tensions as people awaited results.

Outgoing President Uhuru Kenyatta, who had served his two-term limit, fell out with Ruto and endorsed Odinga for president in a controversial move.

Just days before the polls, Ruto took a case to court over the use of a stadium for his final rally in Nairobi.

Pressure on the IEBC

After the 2017 polls were nullified, the IEBC put in place more transparent measures so that Kenyans could actively watch the vote.

Kenya’s rich media environment facilitated tabulations made by competing media houses.

However, the provisional, non-official results confused Kenyans as to who was in the lead – that depended on which television station you followed.

The constitution indicates the winner must take 50 percent plus one vote as well as at least a quarter of the vote of 24 out of 47 counties throughout the country.

Barring that, a runoff of the top two candidates would have to be held within 30 days following the 9 August vote.

The IEBC is required by law to announce the results within one week of the vote – their deadline was this Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Kenyan analysts indicate that due to the closeness of the results, a court appeal is likely.