Presidential election in Kenya: Raila Odinga calls William Ruto’s victory a “parody”

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Outgoing Vice-President William Ruto was declared the winner of the August 9 presidential election on Monday, in a stormy atmosphere marked by disagreements within the Electoral Commission and the eruption of demonstrations, sometimes violent and dispersed by tear gas. Silent since the announcement of the victory of his rival, the loser, Raila Odinga, described Tuesday as a “parody” the result of the election.

Kenya wondered, Tuesday, August 16, what turn of events would take the day after the announcement of the victory of William Ruto in the presidential election, which triggered violent localized demonstrations in certain regions of the country.

Silent for several days, his rival, Raila Odinga, described Tuesday as a “parody” the result of the presidential election giving William Ruto the winner, saying that he will pursue “all legal options” possible. “We will do so in view of the many flaws in the elections,” he said, while urging his supporters to keep the peace and not take justice into their own hands.

After six days of waiting and calm, despite palpable impatience, outgoing vice-president William Ruto was declared the winner of the August 9 election on Monday with 50.49% of the vote against 48.85% for Raila Odinga .

William Ruto had made purchasing power his hobbyhorse, promising jobs when three out of ten people live in extreme poverty in a country hit by the effects of the pandemic and the war in Ukraine and where inflation has exploded.

As soon as the results were given by an Independent Electoral Commission (IEBC) under high pressure, and agitated by internal divisions, supporters of Raila Odinga let their disappointment burst.

Demonstrations have rocked several popular areas of the capital Nairobi, such as Mathare, Kayole and Kibera. Tires were set on fire to block streets in this slum loyal to Raila Odinga, an opposition figure to whom outgoing President Uhuru Kenyatta had given his support for this presidential election. Calm had returned there on Tuesday morning, but the shops remained closed.

In Kisumu (west), another stronghold of Raila Odinga, anger took the form of barricades and stone throwing, shops were looted and police used tear gas to disperse the crowd. There too, calm had returned Tuesday morning, street vendors and motorcycle taxis resuming their activity despite the rubble strewing certain arteries.

President-elect William Ruto assured Monday evening that he would work with “all political leaders”.

“It’s not over until it’s over”

Several African countries, including neighboring Ethiopia and Somalia, have congratulated William Ruto, who is to take the helm of a country considered an economic engine and a democratic figure in the region, although its history has been marked several times by protests and post-election violence.

For its part, the United States Embassy in Kenya congratulated “the Kenyan people for exercising their right to vote in the August 9 elections” in which the 22.1 million registered voters also had to choose their parliamentarians. and their local elected officials. The IEBC is due to announce the results of these elections on Tuesday.

The United States Embassy also called on “all parties to work together to peacefully resolve” the outcome of these elections, and “asked political party leaders to continue to urge their supporters to (…) refrain from any violence during the electoral process”.

Raila Odinga did not speak on Monday evening. But the net of votes (approximately 233,000) which separates him from William Ruto suggests a legal challenge to the results, as he already did in 2007 – the post-election crisis had caused interethnic clashes and the death of 1 100 people – and in 2017. The Supreme Court then invalidated the presidential election, placing the responsibility for this ballot “neither transparent nor verifiable” on the IEBC.

Raila Odinga’s camp will have seven days to drop him off. The candidate himself did not speak but his running mate Martha Karua said on Twitter: “It’s not over until it’s over.”

The Independent Commission, although hailed by international and local observers for its management on polling day, once again finds itself under fire from critics.

A dramatic turn of events caused trouble on Monday. A few minutes before its president announced the results of the presidential election, four of its seven members dissociated themselves from the independent body, briefly explaining their position during a press conference surprised by the “opaque nature of the process”.

Any legal appeal must now be filed with the Supreme Court within seven days of the announcement of the results.

The country’s highest court then has 14 days to render its decision and, in the event of the cancellation of the ballot, a new election must be held within 60 days.

If no one takes legal action, William Ruto will take office within two weeks.

With AFP

Presidential election in Kenya: Raila Odinga calls William Ruto’s victory a “parody”