Kenya Elects New President Amid Electoral Chaos
Kenya's Election Results
Photo by Ed Ram/Getty Images

Kenya Elects New President Amid Electoral Chaos

Manon Lamy August 16, 2022

On Monday Kenya elected a new president: William Ruto. Mr Ruto had been Deputy President since 2013 under Uhuru Kenyatta. He fought the elections against veteran Raila Odinga, who was contesting his fifth election. Prime Minister Odinga won 48,5% of the popular vote as Ruto won 50,59% of the vote making him president elect.

However, the election was not without its drama. Voting was conducted on August 9. The results were not released before Monday. Moreover, members of the electoral commission didn’t support the result.

Now, Odinga has a week to challenge it in the Supreme Court as he has done previously.

Chaos ensues

Before the results were announced, the electoral commission found itself split. Four out of seven of the electoral commissioners ‘disowned’ the result of the election. They went as far as calling the results ‘opaque’. Many have said that this is a political move in favour of Raila Odinga. Only time will tell.

Wafula Chebukati, chairman of the electoral commission, said that two commissioners and the commission’s chief executive had been injured. The commissioners were injured as scuffles broke out before the results were even announced.

Kenya has a history of violence during elections. In 2007, 1200 people were killed following the results. In 2017 more than 100 people lost their lives as the Supreme Court annulled the results of the election. Many more fled their homes as people took to the streets.

As the results were announced, Odinga supporters wasted no time to show that they were not pleased with the results. In Odinga strongholds, black smoke rose out of the streets, people burned piles of tires.

The United Nations urged people to use legal and non violent channels to contest the result of the election.

A ‘hustler in chief’ as new president

William Ruto has often referred to himself as a man of the people and hustler in chief, especially considering his humble beginnings. Ruto’s supporters were glad to see him rise to the top position of the country.

Indeed Mr Ruto started selling chickens by the side of the road. He eventually attended university in the country’s capital Nairobi and earned a PhD plant ecology from the University of Nairobi.

Interviewed by the Guardian, Miriam Wangeci Karuga said that “He [Ruto] started from the very bottom and has kept rising up, so it makes us hopeful that he will empower Kenyans at the bottom.” Ruto clearly has a lot of support as he takes on the difficult task of running Kenya.

Pictures from Mr Ruto’s hometown showed huge crowds united to celebrate his win. Ruto is not part of the big dynasties that have ruled Kenya since its independence from Britain in 1963. Many have compared this electoral race as ‘hustler v dynasty‘.

In his many speeches to the voter he said, that he “may be the son of a nobody but I promise to make Kenya the country of everybody.”

Will the results be contested?

Mr Ruto now has to wait to see if his opponent, Mr Odinga, will file a petition to challenge the results with the Supreme Court. The results took over a week to be tallied. If Mr Odinga were to challenge the results, Kenya would be faced with nearly three weeks of uncertainty.

Mr Odinga challenged the results in 2012 and 2017. However, today Kenya is in a turbulent economic situation. Therefore, no one can predict what will happen if Odinga does file a petition, challenging the results of the election. All we know is that Kenya now enters a tense period of insecurity, as the world waits to see Odinga’s next move.

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Manon is a freelance journalist for Freshered. She joined Freshered in February 2022 where she is still working today. As a freelance journalist she enjoys covering everything from international politics to Formula 1 and travelling. Manon is currently in her final year of Politics and International Relations at the University of Nottingham after returning from a year abroad in Vienna, Austria. She hopes to continue her studies in Journalism.