The chairman of the Electoral Commission of Kenya on Monday declared William Ruto the winner of the presidential election against Raila Odinga, after six days of waiting and the surprise rejection of the results by part of this independent body.
Wafula Chebukati announced that incumbent Vice President Ruto had amassed over 7.17 million votes, or 50.49% of the vote, against 6.94 million, or 48.85%, for Odinga, winning one of the tightest in the country’s history.
William Samoei Ruto becomes Kenya’s fifth president, succeeding Uhuru Kenyatta who, after serving two terms since 2013, was barred from running for a third.
He edged Raila Odinga by 233,211 votes after a generally peaceful campaign and poll followed by an interminable six-day wait that tested the patience of Kenyans.
Ruto becomes the first member of the Kalenjin ethnic group to be elected president in twenty years, succeeding two presidents from the Kikuyu community.
By midday, the Electoral Commission’s national counting center, on which the eyes of the whole country are riveted, was filled with party representatives, observers and diplomats, who waited for the announcement for several hours, entertained by choirs, under heavy police surveillance.
A few minutes before this announcement, four of the seven commissioners of the IEBC held a press conference in a hotel in the capital to announce that they rejected these results.
“Because of the opaque nature of the process (…) we cannot take responsibility for the results which are going to be announced”, declared the vice-president of the IEBC Juliana Cherera surrounded by three other commissioners.
She called on Kenyans to “calm”.
The 2022 election was held peacefully but was marked by a sharply declining turnout: around 65% of the 22.1 million voters turned out at the polls on Tuesday, down from 78% in the last ballot in 2017 .