William Ruto defeats government-backed opposition leader and wins Kenyan presidency

William Ruto defeats government-backed opposition leader and wins Kenyan presidency

Ruto won with 50.49% of the vote, narrowly defeating 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 try. Ruto’s party, the Kenya First Coalition, has won a majority of seats in Kenya’s Senate, the second highest in the National Assembly.

During a speech on Monday, Ruto said: “It was God who brought us here…my team and I will ensure that the sacrifices made by many Kenyans are not in vain…we will not abandon them.” I am confident that this country will come together and we can move forward as a democratic nation.”

“I will lead a transparent, open and democratic government and will cooperate with the opposition to the extent that they oversee my administration,” he added.

chaos about results

Earlier Monday, his rival Odinga’s coalition rejected the election results before they were even announced by Kenya’s Independent Elections and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).

Odinga’s chief agent, Saitabao Kanchory, told the press outside the national elections center in Nairobi that they have not yet been able to verify the final result with their own record.

Shortly after Odinga’s coalition rejected the results, the national census center briefly descended into chaos, with fighting breaking out and chairs being thrown into the building.

The country’s electoral commission was divided as four officials denied the findings of commission chairman Wafula Chebukati, officials said at an earlier news conference.

IEBC Vice-Chair Juliana Cherera was among those who questioned the results, but provided no evidence of irregularities.

The Hustler-in-Chief

Analysts had predicted a win for Odinga given his performance opinion polls and the support he enjoyed from outgoing President Uhuru Kenyatta.

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 was able to transcend Kenya’s traditionally dynastic politics to defeat Odinga, the son of Kenya’s first vice president.

Kenyan election officials blame presidential candidates' agents for delaying results

Ruto dubbed himself a “hustler-in-chief” during the campaign, citing his humble beginnings as a chicken seller who fought his way to the top of Kenyan politics.

Political scientist Herman Manyora told CNN before the election that “Ruto excited the youth … almost in a euphoric sense.”

Ruto, a former teacher who has a PhD in plant ecology from the University of Nairobi, has pledged to prioritize Kenya’s economy and “elevate ordinary citizens” as president.

He will come under pressure to find solutions to Kenya’s pressing economic problems, including mounting debt, high food and fuel prices and mass youth unemployment.

Ruto has a long and checkered history in Kenyan politics, being tried alongside President Kenyatta in 2013 at the International Criminal Court in the Netherlands on alleged crimes against humanity following deadly violence in the 2007 election. However, the charges were later dropped.