By Lisa Vives, Global Information Network
NEW YORK (IDN) — What began as a quiet voting exercise with a low voter turnout ended with an upset victory for Kenya’s Deputy President, William Amolo Ruto, who becomes the nation’s fifth president. The race had taken a worrying turn since polls were shut down several times after complaints by supporters of the leading candidates.
On August 15, Kenya’s elections chief declared Deputy President William Amolo Ruto. Still, four other senior election officials said the week-long count was too opaque amid chaotic scenes and disowned the result.
At last count, Ruto edged out Odinga Odinga. The two had been running neck and neck.
The announcement was delayed amid scuffles and allegations of vote-rigging by Mr Odinga’s campaign. By early Saturday (August 13) afternoon, Odinga had 52.54 per cent of the vote (2,288,315 votes), compared with 46.76 per cent (2,036,795 votes) for Ruto in 29.92 per cent of polling stations, according to official results released from Nairobi, where the Independent Electoral Commission (IEBC) was collecting, counting and verifying results. Ruto won with a slim victory of 50.5%.
The two men—who represent the two biggest political dynasties in Kenya —were fierce rivals in the 2017 election but made up the following year at a highly publicized event dubbed The Handshake.
Throughout the voting, there was a sense of anxiety in the country as disputed elections in the past have led to violence or the whole process being cancelled.
With the dark shadow of the American voting experience in mind, several prominent leaders and organizations were calling for patience and urging Kenyans to maintain peace.
Catholic Archbishop Anthony Muheria has said whoever will be declared a winner should “accept victory with respect and humility”.
“If aggrieved, receive the disappointment or lack of victory with grace… pursue redress through the judicial process. There are no losers in this process, a successful democratic process is a win for all of us,” he said.
“Unsuccessful candidates must not be treated as losers, but as Kenyans who have done their part in expanding the democratic space.”
Still, social media platforms buzzed with false claims of politicians losing their seats only for them later to be announced as winners.
Influential bloggers and politicians in Kenya help political parties bypass mainstream media channels and connect directly with potential supporters. Election observers and monitoring groups have expressed concern about the spread of false and misleading information.
One attempt at misleading voters appeared on election day, suggesting that votes had already been tallied in an overseas polling station in Sydney, Australia and that Mr Odinga had received the most votes.
Variations of this message, presumably designed to energize supporters to get out and vote, circulated on WhatsApp, Twitter and Facebook.
However, it was all made up. There were no Kenyan diaspora polling stations in Australia. [IDN-InDepthNews – 15 August 2022]
Photo: Kenya’s Deputy President William Ruto (Front) speaks after receiving a certificate to confirm his victory in the presidential election at a tallying centre in Nairobi, Kenya, on Aug. 15, 2022. Credit: Joy Nabukewa/Xinhua
IDN is the flagship agency of the Non-profit International Press Syndicate.
This article is published under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International licence. You are free to share, remix, tweak and build upon it non-commercially. Please give due credit.