In Kenya, Election Comes to Crazy Finish

William Ruto defeats Raila Odinga, but 4 of 7 election commissioners denounce the count
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 15, 2022 1:14 PM CDT
In Kenya, Election Comes to Crazy Finish
Supporters of William Ruto celebrate his victory over opposition leader Raila Odinga in Eldoret, Kenya, Monday, Aug. 15, 2022.   (AP Photo/Brian Inganga)

(Newser) – After last-minute chaos that could foreshadow a court challenge, Kenya’s electoral commission chairman on Monday declared Deputy President William Ruto the winner of the close presidential election over five-time contender Raila Odinga. Ruto received 50.49% of the votes with more than 7.1 million, the chairman said, while Odinga received 48.85% with more than 6.9 million in last Tuesday's peaceful election. It's a triumph for the man who shook up politics by appealing to struggling Kenyans on economic terms and not on traditional ethnic ones, per the AP. But just before the declaration, four of the seven electoral commissioners told journalists they could not support the “opaque nature” of the final phase of the vote-verification process.

“We cannot take ownership of the result that is going to be announced,” vice chair Juliana Cherera said, without giving details. At the declaration venue, police surged to impose calm amid shouting and scuffles before electoral commission chair Wafula Chebukati announced the official results—and said the two commissioners still with him had been injured. The bizarre scene played out as a choir at the venue continued to sing. The sudden split in the commission came minutes after Odinga’s chief agent said they could not verify the results and made allegations of “electoral offenses” without giving details or evidence. Odinga didn’t come to the venue.

Now Kenyans wait to see whether Odinga will again go to court to contest the election results in a country crucial to regional stability. This is likely the final try for the 77-year-old longtime opposition figure backed this time by former rival and outgoing President Uhuru Kenyatta, who fell out with his deputy, Ruto, years ago. Streets across Kenya that were already crowded with expectant supporters exploded, in places with jubilation, in others with anger. Shouting “No Raila, no peace,” Odinga supporters burned tires in the crowded Nairobi neighborhood of Kibera as night fell.

(Read more Kenya stories.)

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