ADDIS ABABA – William Ruto has been declared the winner of the race to be the fifth president of Kenya after narrowly beating his rival, Raila Odinga.
It was a narrow margin of victory with Ruto winning a little more than seven million votes and Odinga securing a little less than seven million, said Wafula Chebukat, chairperson of Kenya’s Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).
Ruto received 50.49 percent of the vote, while Odinga received 48.85 percent. The announcement was delayed amid scuffles and allegations of vote-rigging by Odinga’s campaign, reports the BBC
Four of the seven members of the electoral commission also refused to endorse the result, saying it was “opaque”.
“We are going to give a comprehensive statement… and again we urge Kenyans to keep calm. There is an open door that people can go to court and the rule of law will prevail,” said Juliana Cherera, the vice-chairperson of IEBC.
Odinga’s party agent earlier alleged that there were “irregularities” and “mismanagement” in the election. Candidates have seven days to challenge the result in court.
Now Kenyans wait to see whether Odinga will again go to court to contest the results of last Tuesday’s peaceful election in a country crucial to regional stability, according to media reports.
The many checks and balances were designed to try to prevent the kind of allegations of rigging that provoked violence after the 2007 election, when more than 1,200 people were killed. In 2017, after the Supreme Court quashed 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 characterized the vote as a battle between ordinary “hustlers” and “dynasties” who had ruled Kenya since independence from Britain in 1963, reports Aljazeera.
In his speech, President-elect Ruto thanked the electoral commission for overseeing the election.
“It is a wonderful evening… all sovereign power belongs to the people of Kenya,” Ruto said, adding that he wanted to be a president of all. “There is no looking back, we are looking to the future, we need all hands on deck to move forward.”
Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed was among the first African leaders to congratulate president-elect Ruto.
“My congratulations William Ruto, on your election as the President of the Republic of Kenya,” he said in a tweet. “I wish you best of luck in your endeavors ahead and we look forward to working closely with you on common bilateral and regional interests.”
– EM News/ Agencies
Featured image caption: Ruto and Wafula Chebukati, the head of the electoral commission. [Photo GETTY IMAGES]
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