Former Vice President Ruto wins election in Kenya

fThe Kenyans have been waiting for this moment in high tension for almost a week. On Monday, after a delay of several hours, the Independent Electoral Commission (IEBC) announced the winner of this year’s presidential election. Vice President William Ruto won the race with 50.4 percent. His challenger Raila Odinga received 48.9 percent of the votes. The rest was split between two outsider candidates.

Claudia Bröll

Political correspondent for Africa based in Cape Town.

Before the election results were announced, however, a scandal erupted. The deputy chair of the commission and three other members of the panel called the results “opaque” and did not want to support them. The Vice-Chairman recommended that the parties have the election results examined in court. A riot broke out in the voting center. According to news agencies, diplomats and international observers were led out of the building. The counting of the votes had already taken longer than many had expected. Again and again there were delays and allegations of election manipulation by Odinga’s campaign team.

An era could end

The 55-year-old Ruto went into this election with a call for class warfare. His election slogan was “Hustlers vs. Dynasties.” “Hustlers” are poor, hard-working people. With dynasties he alluded to the Odinga dynasty, which has shaped political events since Kenya’s independence in 1963. Odinga’s father was the first Vice-President of the Republic of Kenya and later the leader of the opposition for many years. It was his son’s fifth attempt to attain the highest office in the state. With the repeated defeat, an era in Kenya may now be coming to an end.

It was unclear until Monday when the commission would announce the result. Only a few hours in advance, she had announced the date on Monday in the “Bomas of Kenya”, the election center. With each passing day, the nervousness and guesswork had increased across the country. In Nairobi, everyday life almost came to a standstill, in the slums there was no other topic. According to the constitution, the commission had until this Tuesday to announce the result.

Whether Ruto will be sworn in smoothly as the fifth president after an election victory seemed highly questionable beforehand. In Kenya, election results and possible election rigging have been the subject of heated debates on several occasions in the past. The Supreme Court canceled the first ballot in 2017 due to irregularities. At that time Odinga had also complained about electoral fraud. However, the court did not agree with this view. After the 2007 election, in which Odinga was defeated by the incumbent Mwai Kibaki, serious unrest broke out in which more than 1,200 people died. After mediation by the then Secretary-General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, the opponents, Mwai Kibaki and Odinga, agreed on a power-sharing.

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