Tense Kenya awaits losing candidate’s next move
Kenya was on tenterhooks on Tuesday as the nation awaited a pronouncement from five-time losing presidential contender Raila Odinga on whether he will ask the courts to overturn his rival William Ruto’s victory in last week’s election.
Wafula Chebukati, the chairman of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, announced on Monday that Ruto garnered 50.5% support and Odinga 48.9% in the August 9 vote, with just 233,211 votes separating the two candidates. But four of the nation’s seven electoral commissioners rejected the outcome, citing a lack of transparency over the process.
Odinga, 77, is scheduled to address the nation at 2pm local time. Dennis Onsarigo, his press secretary, referred questions to lawyer Paul Mwangi, who didn’t answer several calls to his mobile phone.
While several of Odinga’s other campaign officials rejected the outcome, none could say whether he intended to submit a petition with the Supreme Court to try have them annulled.
A challenge should be filed within seven days of the results announcement, and the court must then make a final ruling on their validity within 14 days.
A number of Odinga’s supporters took to the streets of Nairobi, the capital, late on Monday and set tires alight, but the situation was largely calm on Tuesday.
Previous disputed elections in Kenya have been marred by violence, the worst of which occurred after the 2007 vote and claimed the lives of at least 1,100 people and forced about 350,000 to flee their homes.
The yield on Kenya’s 2032 Eurobonds jumped 67 basis points to 12.1% on Monday. They were little changed on Tuesday.
Ruto, 55, said the IEBC had “bent over backward to accommodate everybody,” the election results spoke for themselves and their validity was being questioned by those who didn’t want to accept that they had lost.
“The people of Kenya have spoken and we need to respect what they have said,” he told reporters in Nairobi after he was declared the president-elect.
“We intend to hit the ground running. I am preparing myself that on day one of the swearing in of the president when I have the legal power to do things," Rutp said. "I have lined up a couple of executive orders on what I intend to do to get the country moving and to get the situation in the country under control.”
Ruto’s administration may battle to pass legislation if Odinga manages to cobble together a majority in the National Assembly. Odinga’s coalition had secured 162 seats and Ruto’s 159, with four contests to go, according to the Daily Nation newspaper. Ruto’s alliance won the Senate, parliament’s other chamber, by a single seat.
The Election Observer Group, which comprises 5,000 local monitors from civil rights and religious organisations, said the results announced by the IEBC were consistent with its parallel tally, and the constitution gave Chebukati the right to declare the results.
“The 2022 election was an improvement from 2017,” Anne Ireri, the group’s chairwoman, told reporters in Nairobi. “Those aggrieved can use material from the dissenting commissioners to prosecute their case.”
The US Embassy in Nairobi congratulated Kenyans for peacefully exercising their right to vote.
“Going forward, we urge all parties to work together to peacefully resolve any remaining concerns about this election through existing dispute-resolution mechanisms,” it said in a statement on Monday. “We ask all political party leaders to continue to urge their supporters to remain peaceful and refrain from violence during the electoral process.”
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’s office said it noted the results, and that it encouraged all candidates to abide by their commitment to recognise the outcome and resort to legal channels to address any challenges.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa were among foreign leaders who congratulated Ruto on his victory.
“I wish him a successful inauguration and tenure in office, while also looking forward to more fruitful and robust engagements between Nigeria and Kenya,” Buhari said on Twitter.
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