Kenya awaits reaction from Odinga, losing a tight presidential election

Kenya was waiting for Raila Odinga’s speech on Tuesday, silent since the announcement the day before of his rival William Ruto’s victory in the presidential election, which sparked violent but localized demonstrations on Monday evening.

All eyes are now on the now regime-backed opposition veteran, who, at 77, was competing for the fifth time and is entitled to challenge the result. “The mysterious”, as he is nicknamed in his Luo community, remained invisible and silent on Monday.

The former political prisoner must hold a press conference in the early afternoon.

Six days after the August 9 election, marked by calm despite growing impatience, incumbent Vice-President Ruto was declared the winner with 50.49% of the vote against Raila Odinga’s 48.85%, by a shaken Electoral Commission internal divisions.

“It’s Ruto!” said People Daily on Tuesday morning, while the Standard headlined “Ruto the 5th”, the Kalenjin leader becoming the fifth president since independence in 1963.

Ruto, 55, who held the role of challenger in this election, assured that he would work with “all political leaders”, promising a “transparent, open and democratic” country.

After violent but localized demonstrations which occurred Monday evening in strongholds of Odinga, in popular districts of Nairobi and in the big city of the West, fief luo, of Kisumu, calm had returned Tuesday morning.

But many businesses remain closed and the economy has been sluggish since the vote a week ago, raising public impatience.

“Life must go back to normal. Politicians should not make life stop,” said Bernard Isedia, 32, Odinga voter and taxi driver in Nairobi.

– Refrain from all violence” –

The campaign was notably dominated by the soaring cost of living, especially of basic commodities, with East Africa’s economic powerhouse being hit hard by the effects of the pandemic and the war in Ukraine. Ruto had made this theme his hobbyhorse.

“I expect the president to improve the economy of Kenya, that we have more opportunities in terms of jobs for the youth. All the young people will tell you that we are struggling to find jobs”, explained to the AFP Judy Kosgei, 31, saleswoman of beauty products in Eldoret, Ruto’s stronghold.

Several neighboring countries, including Ethiopia and Somalia, have congratulated the elected president of this country considered a regional democratic heavyweight, although its history has been marked several times by disputes and post-election violence.

“We look forward to continuing to work alongside our brothers and sisters in Kenya, to strengthen our historically strong ties,” said Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan, launching: “Tuko Pamoja” – “We are together” in Swahili , the common language of both countries.

The small difference in votes (around 233,000) suggests a legal challenge to the results by Odinga, as he did in 2017.

Against the backdrop of demonstrations and dozens of deaths linked to police repression, the Supreme Court then invalidated the presidential election, placing responsibility for the “irregularities” observed on the IEBC.

In 2007, an election also very close (around 200,000 votes), Odinga also refused the result, which triggered the worst post-election crisis in the country’s history, with more than 1,100 dead in inter-ethnic clashes.

The Independent Commission, although hailed by observers for its management on polling day, finds itself again this year in the spotlight.

A dramatic turn of events caused trouble on Monday. A few minutes before its president announced the results, four of its seven members dissociated themselves from it, rejecting a process of “opaque nature”.

On Tuesday, the Election Observation Group (Elog), an association which has been monitoring the smooth running of votes since 2010, said its calculations “concorded” with the results of the IEBC, with 50.7% for Ruto and 48, 7% for Odinga.

The Odinga camp has seven days to file an appeal with the Supreme Court, which would have two weeks to render its decision. Otherwise, William Ruto will take office within the next two weeks.

“Expect a lot of controversy. Expect legal action. Expect this to last and last” again, said Nic Cheeseman, professor at the University of Birmingham (United Kingdom) on Twitter. and connoisseur of Kenya.


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