Kenya’s Deputy Prime Minister William Ruto was on Monday declared the country’s next president. The declaration was greeted with protests, as chaos broke out at the national election center in Nairobi over the results.
Ruto, 55, won 50.49% of the vote, narrowly defeating veteran opposition leader and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, 77, who was contesting his fifth election as the country chose its replacement for President Uhuru Kenyatta. During his campaign, Ruto promised to revive the country’s economy and provide more opportunities for all citizens, as Kenya deals with high unemployment and massive debt.
“There is no room for vengeance,” Ruto, who will become Kenya’s fifth president since independence, said in his acknowledgement speech Monday. “I am acutely aware that our country is at a stage where we need all hands-on deck. In this election, there are no losers,” Ruto added. “The people of Kenya have won because we have raised the political bar. The people of Kenya are the biggest winners.”
Results of the election, which took place Tuesday, were delayed more than two hours past Monday’s constitutional deadline after the country’s electoral commission split and four officials disputed the commission’s results.
Odinga’s coalition also rejected the results. There were reports of fights breaking out and chairs being thrown inside the national tallying center. At a news conference outside the building, Odinga’s chief agent Saitabao Kanchory said they were unable to cross check the final result with their own tally.
“Once we see them, we want to verify them, when we verify them, we will be able to know and tell the Kenyan people because a result that is not verifiable is not a result,” Kanchory told reporters earlier.
Opinion polls predicted a win for Odinga, who campaigned on instituting a healthcare-for-all system, with some media outlets placing him in the lead after the election. Hours after Ruto was declared the winner, there were ongoing demonstrations across parts of Nairobi, as Odinga’s running mate Martha Karua tweeted “It is not over until it is over.”