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Penpushing or bloody protests – Kenya presidential election results

Kenya braced on Tuesday for a protracted legal battle over the objections of more than half the electoral commission to William Ruto being declared the victor in an extremely close presidential race on Monday. Fears of political violence now loom over the country, which has a history of post-election bloodshed.

Overnight, protesters already battled police and burned tyres on the road in the western city of Kisumu and Nairobi’s huge Kibera slum, both strongholds of rival candidate Raila Odinga.

Violent protests erupted in Raila Odinga’s stronghold of Kisumu and parts of Nairobi after he lost his fifth bid for Kenya’s presidency on Monday, with angry demonstrators alleging vote-rigging as police fired tear gas to disperse them.

— 87.9 FM VOK Radio (@879vokfm) August 15, 2022

Pressure to seek peaceful outcome

The veteran opposition leader, making his fifth bid for the presidency, is under local and international pressure to seek a peaceful legal remedy for any concerns over the election outcome.

Thank you Kenya for the biggest honour of my life. I am ready to serve you.

— William Samoei Ruto, PhD (@WilliamsRuto) August 15, 2022

The United Nations and the US embassy in Kenya both urged all parties to work together. The four commissioners who disowned the election results also said the parties should seek resolution through the courts.

The chairman of the electoral commission, Wafula Chebukati declared William Ruto the winner of the election with 50.49 percent of the vote against Odinga’s 48.5 percent.

#Breaking: William Ruto is President-elect for Kenya, IEBC announces.

Ruto – 7,176,141 representing 50.49%
Odinga – 6,942,930 representing 48.85%@nbstv #KenyaDecides

— Canary Mugume (@CanaryMugume) August 15, 2022

Post-election bloodshed
Kenya, although relatively rich and stable among east African countries, has a history of post-election bloodshed, with over 1,200 people killed in widespread violence after the 2007 presidential vote.

More than 100 people were killed after the Supreme Court overturned the result of the last presidential election in 2017 due to anomalies in the voting process.

What will Raila Odinga do?

The supporters of the opposition leader denounced Monday’s result, although Kisumu Governor Anyang’ Nyong’o called for calm as protests in parts of the lakeside town turned violent after Ruto’s victory was declared.

Kenya’s presidential elections underway

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Makau Mutua, the head of Mr Odinga’s campaign think-tank, said officials of his Azimio La Umoja (Declaration of Unity) Alliance were discussing a course of action.

“We are consulting among ourselves,” Mr Mutua told Reuters by phone. “It is a top line issue … all options are on the table. No option has been ruled out at this moment,” he added.

He also pointed out that the message sent by the four commissioners who disowned the results, stated that “the chair of the commission does not have the authority to decide unilaterally the final results of the election”.

The Kenyan opposition leader is scheduled to make a statement later on Tuesday.

Kenya’s problems

Kenya is already struggling with an economic and social crisis. Kenyans already reeling from the impact of COVID-19 have been hit by global rises in food and fuel prices while a devastating drought in the north has left 4.1 million people dependent on food aid.

The 55-year-old had made Kenya’s class divisions the centrepiece of his campaign to become Kenya’s fifth president, promising to reward low-income “hustlers”.

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