There is massive jubilation in Kenya as the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission has declared Deputy President William Ruto the winner of the last week’s presidential election. The announcement was made on Monday evening by the commission’s chairman, Wafula Chebukati.
According to official results, William Ruto narrowly defeated veteran politician and son of the country’s first vice President, Raila Odinga, with a very narrow margin after he polled 50.49% of the total votes. Odinga had 48.5% of the total votes.
While the result of the election has triggered jubilation in some parts of the country, it has sparked protests in other parts of the country. The protest did not begin with the ordinary people of Kenya. It started right at the table of the electoral umpire. Before the announcement, the deputy chairman of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, Juliana Cherera, alongside three other members of the electoral commission disagreed with the result, describing it as “opaque.”
“We cannot take ownership of the result that is going to be announced because of the opaque nature of this last phase of the general election,” said Juliana Cherera, adding that the four members of the seven-man committee “are going to give a comprehensive statement.”
With four out of seven members of the electoral committee questioning the genuineness of the result, other Kenyans seem justified in doing the same.
‘God…Brought us Here’
President-elect William Ruto, after he was declared winner, said every Kenyan was a winner and thanked his main opponent Raila Odinga.
“In this election, there are no losers. The people of Kenya have won because we have raised the political bar. The people of Kenya are the biggest winners,” he said, adding that he won the election because he dwelled on the issues affecting the country.
“We dwelled on issues and tried to sell an agenda to the people of Kenya during the campaign,” he added.
William Ruto continued by saying his political enemies have nothing to fear and promised to run a transparent government.
“To those who have done many things against us, I want to tell them there’s nothing to fear. There will be no vengeance. We do not have the luxury to look back,” Ruto said. “It was God that brought us here … my team and I will make sure that the sacrifices made by many Kenyans is not in vain …I will run a transparent, open, democratic government and I will work with the opposition to the extent that they provide oversight over my administration.”
He described the IEBC chairman as a hero and said the commissioners who refused to endorse the result were a “side show.”
More Dramas ahead
Even the blind could see that the end of the elections could still be far off. Before the final declaration of the result, Odinga’s team had already rejected the result.
Saitabao Kanchory, Odinga’s chief agent, told journalists that his team had not been able to cross-examine the final result with their tally.
“Once we see them, we want to verify them. When we verify them, we will be able to know and to tell the Kenyan people because a result that is not verifiable is not a result,” Kanchory said while awaiting the final declaration.
Odinga was absent at the declaration of the result, which was the first sign that his party had rejected the polls. Soon after the announcement, Odinga’s running mate, Martha Karua, tweeted: “it is not over until it is over.” Most Kenyans replied to her tweet that it would be a more honorable thing to concede defeat.
“Must you win so that the results are genuine?? Ruto beat you in your own game,” one Twitter user replied.
However, analysts have said it is likely that Martha and her principal, Odinga, will appeal the election results in court.
Kenya’s History of Post-Election Violence
Violence has been a regular feature in Kenya’s elections. In 2007, more than 1,200 people were killed after the result of the country’s presidential election was announced. Ten years later, in 2017, over 100 persons lost their lives after the country’s Supreme Court annulled the first election over irregularities.
To curb violence, the electoral commission has introduced checks and balances. Unfortunately, this election witnessed its own violence before the results were announced.
A fight broke out inside the tallying hall which forced security personnel to whisk out International observers, diplomats, and other guests before Chebukati announced the result. The electoral committee chairman said two commissioners and the electoral commission’s chief executive were injured and taken to the hospital.
Officials have urged those dissatisfied with the result to seek redress in court.
Stephane Dujarric, the spokesperson for the United Nations, said the body took note of the results and urged the candidates to “resort to legal channels to address any challenges that may arise.”
The U.S embassy in Kenya was not left out. They also advised angry candidates and supporters to refrain from violence.
“We ask all political party leaders to continue to urge their supporters to remain peaceful and refrain from violence,” the embassy said in a statement.
Mixed Reactions in Kenya
While there are jubilations in some parts of Kenya, other parts are filled with smoke resulting from burning tires. Protesters in some parts are shouting: “We need Raila now!”, “Chebukati must go! “No Raila, no peace!” and many more.
In other parts of the country, especially in Ruto’s hometown, there is a wild celebration, and supporters could be seen carrying pictures of the President-elect.
Nicholas Kemei, a Ruto supporter, said the President-elect knows what the people want and “understands our country at large.”
“He knows what we want. He knows that those people who are down need to promote themselves to come up, and that is why he promoted the bottom-up economy, and that is why we are so happy today because we voted for him, and he is a very sober-minded guy. So we are positive that this guy will steer this country to another level,” he added.
If the Supreme Court fails to overturn the election result, William Ruto would be the country’s 5th president. Ruto received 7,176,141 (50.49 percent) of the votes, while Raila Odinga had 6,942,930 votes (48.85 percent). Odinga will have seven days to appeal the election result.