Kenya’s electoral commission chair has declared William Ruto the winner of a tight presidential race but, amid chaotic scenes, four other senior election officials have said the week-long count was too opaque and disowned the result.
Ruto, the deputy president, had appeared to be leading the longtime opposition leader, Raila Odinga, as Kenyans awaited final results of the election held nearly a week ago.
Minutes before the chair of the electoral commission, Wafula Chebukati, announced that Ruto had won the vote, his deputy, Juliana Cherera, had told media at a separate location that she and three other commissioners disowned the results.
“We are not able to take ownership of the results that will be announced,” she said.
Diplomats and international elections experts were whisked out of the tallying hall before Chebukati spoke, as scuffles broke out.
The sudden split in the commission came minutes after Odinga’s chief agent said they could not verify the results and made allegations of “electoral offences” without giving details or evidence. Odinga did not come to the venue for the declaration.
Amid fears that vote-rigging allegations could lead to bloody scenes like those that followed presidential polls in 2007 and 2017, Cherera urged the parties to pursue any disputes through the courts.
Now Kenyans must wait to see whether Odinga will again go to court to contest the results of Tuesday’s peaceful election in a country crucial to regional stability. This is likely to be the final try for the 77-year-old longtime opposition figure, backed this time by his former rival and the outgoing president, Uhuru Kenyatta, who fell out with his deputy, Ruto.
Source: The Guardian