The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IECB) has declared William Ruto the winner of the Kenyan presidential election. The former deputy president will become the fifth president of the East African nation.
The announcement of the results has been questioned and is causing confusion for some people. Before the announcement, four IECB election commissioners indicated they could not endorse the "opaque" vote count, raising concerns about what might take place next.
Just after the announcement, the president elect stated that "No one is a loser because we elevated the political standard. The people of Kenya triumphed." "There is no turning back; instead, we are going forward, and to get there, we need everyone on board," he added.
According to the IEBC chairperson, Ruto won by a slim margin, garnering slightly more than seven million votes to Odinga's slightly less than seven million. Odinga earned 48.85 percent of the vote versus Ruto's 50.49 percent.
Before the announcement was delivered, scuffles broke out in the tallying hall, forcing diplomats and international elections observers to be removed. Police rushed into the declaration site amid shouting and shoving to establish calm.
The deputy head of the electoral commission, Juliana Cherera and three other commissioners told journalists they could not support the "opaque nature" of the final result. She stated that "We cannot take ownership of the result that is going to be announced." Cherera encouraged the parties to resolve any differences through the legal system.
Odinga’s camp made claims of rigging and electoral irregularities during the election and during the counting process. However, Odinga’s party has not yet provided any context or supporting evidence of rigging.
Kenyans are now waiting to see if Odinga will re-appear in court to challenge the outcomes of last Tuesday's orderly election in a nation critical to regional stability.
Odinga did not attend the announcement, and it was probably the last chance for the 77-year old to succeed as president. This time around, Odinga had the backing of his former rival and outgoing President Uhuru Kenyatta, who had a falling out with Ruto years earlier.
Kenyatta described the announcement as "invalid because he had no quorum of commissioners to hold a plenary and make such a weighty decision."
In addition, former justice minister and Odinga’s running partner, Martha Karua, tweeted, "It is not done till it is over."
Kenya is on edge right now. People in Kisimu, Odinga’s stronghold in the west of the nation, started shouting and burning tires.
Kenya has witnessed political violence before. Following the 2007 election, allegations of vote manipulation sparked rioting that resulted in the deaths of over 1,200 people. In addition, more than 100 people were killed in 2017, when the Supreme Court annulled the results due to irregularities in the electoral process.
According to the president elect, Ruto, the vote was a struggle between the common people and the "dynasties" that had dominated Kenya since its independence from Britain in 1963.
The fact that the same long-standing political leaders were on the ballot and that Kenyans were frustrated with the dire economic situation in the region's economic center caused a dip in turnout to 65 percent in this election.
It remains to be seen what will happen next. It would be a shame to see a largely peaceful election end up in violence.