William Ruto defeats Raila Odinga to win Kenyan presidency
Ruto won with 50.49% of the vote, narrowly beating veteran opposition leader and former prime minister Raila Odinga, who was contesting his fifth election.
He will become Kenya’s fifth president since independence, winning the seat on his first attempt. Ruto’s party, the Kenya First Coalition, won the majority of seats in Kenya’s Senate, the second highest in the National Assembly.
Announcement of the results was delayed more than two hours past the constitutional deadline and the country’s electoral commission was split, after four officials disavowed the results of commission chairman Wafula Chebukati.
Opposing officials held their own press conference at another venue to challenge the official results. IEBC Vice President Juliana Cherera was among those who disagreed with the results, but offered no evidence of irregularities.
Earlier on Monday, Ruto’s rival coalition, Odinga, also rejected the election results even before they were announced by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission of Kenya (IEBC).
Odinga’s chief agent, Saitabao Kanchory, told reporters outside the National Elections Center in Nairobi that they had not yet been able to verify the final result with their own tally.
“Once we see them we want to verify them, when we verify them we will be able to know and tell the people of Kenya because a result that is not verifiable is not a result,” said Kanchory to reporters awaiting results. announcement.
The national tally center briefly descended into chaos shortly after Odinga’s coalition rejected the results, fighting broke out and chairs were thrown into the building.
“It’s not over until it’s over”
Ruto thanked the people of Kenya for electing him as the country’s next leader in his maiden speech after being announced the winner of the election.
“In this election, there are no losers. The Kenyan people won because we raised the political bar. The Kenyan people are the biggest winners,” he said.
He expressed his “gratitude” to Kenyan citizens “who refused to be locked in tribal cocoons”.
He also thanked his competitor and former opposition leader, Raila Odinga, and said, “We dwelt on the issues and tried to sell an agenda to the Kenyan people during the campaign.”
“It is God who brought us here…my team and I will ensure that the sacrifices made by many Kenyans are not in vain…I will lead a transparent, open and democratic government and work with the opposition for as long as they monitor my administration,” he added.
The response to Kenya’s presidential election results on Monday night was divided. In Eldoret, live footage from Ruto’s hometown showed large crowds celebrating and cheering his victory.
But in Kisumu, Odinga’s stronghold, protests broke out. Live footage showed dozens of people protesting the election results, burning tires and smoke billowing in the air.
The “Chief Hustler”
But Ruto’s populist “man of the people” approach, which rejected political dynasties and played on anti-elite sentiment in the country, endeared him to voters.
He managed to transcend Kenya’s traditionally dynastic politics to beat Odinga, the son of Kenya’s first vice president.
During the campaign, Ruto described himself as “the hustler in chief”, citing his humble beginnings as a chicken seller who worked his way to the top of Kenyan politics.
Political analyst Herman Manyora told CNN ahead of the election that “Ruto got young people excited…almost in a euphoric sense.”
Ruto, a former teacher with a PhD in plant ecology from the University of Nairobi, has pledged 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 growing 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 in 2013 at the International Criminal Court in the Netherlands for alleged crimes against humanity following deadly violence during the Kenyan elections. 2007. However, the charges were later dismissed.