Kenya’s electoral commission chair on Monday announced that Deputy President William Ruto won the tight presidential race.
The news came just minutes after four out of seven election officials said on Monday they rejected the imminent, highly anticipated announcement.
“We cannot take ownership of the result that will be announced,” Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) vice chair Juliana Cherera told reporters, saying the process was “opaque.”
At the same time, Ruto declared victory, stating that “there are no losers. The people of Kenya have won because we raised the political bar.”
Announcement prompts scuffles amongst officials, public
The situation quickly descended into chaos, with scuffles breaking out. Footage showed a man throwing a podium off the stage and diplomats were reportedly whisked out of the tallying hall.
Two election officials were also reportedly injured.
DW correspondent Felix Maringa said that the elections authorities alleged that “the IEBC systems had been hacked” and that the vote counting office was “a crime scene.” Maringa described “ugly scene” with officials throwing chairs at each other.
The August 9 election saw two candidates run almost neck-and-neck — Ruto and opposition leader Raila Odinga.
A tally published by the mass-circulation Daily Nation newspaper showed, based on results from more than 80% of constituencies, that Ruto was edging ahead.
Ruto was leading with slightly more than 51% of the vote, while Odinga had 48%.
How do elections work in Kenya?
Under Kenya’s constitution, the IEBC has up to seven days to announce the results, meaning that they must be out by Tuesday at the latest.
For a candidate to win the presidential race, they need to receive 50%+1 of the votes.
Besides electing the president, Kenyans last week cast their votes for some 1,882 legislators and local officials.
The election saw a low turnout, with about 65% of the 22.1 million registered voters casting their ballots, according to the IEBC. The turnout in the 2017 election was nearly 80%.
Who were the front runners?
Ruto has served as deputy president since 2013. His boss, outgoing President Uhuru Kenyatta, endorsed Odinga in this presidential election.
Kenyatta’s support for Odinga, a longtime opposition figure, effectively made Ruto run as the challenger. His lead is seen as a symbol of discontent with Kenyatta’s legacy.
Ruto has pledged to implement a new bottom-up economic model, with a focus on Kenya’s informal workers’ sector.
The 55-year-old previously served as minister of home affairs, minister of agriculture, and minister of higher education.
Odinga, 77, is making his fifth bid for the top job, after losing in 1997, 2007, 2013, and 2017.
The veteran opposition leader has also pledged to reform the economy in the East African nation.
fb,es/rt (AFP, Reuters)
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