Kenya begins analyzing the results of a contested election

KISUMU, Kenya – After a day of tumultuous politics in Kenya, the country on Tuesday began to face the reality of a newly elected president, William Ruto, a electorate sharply divided and uncertain about how The loser of the election would clearly react to defeat in a country vital to East Africa’s economy and stability.

Mr. Ruto, who is now vice president, moved quickly on Monday in a speech and press conference to cement his new status after being declared the winner of Tuesday’s election. Three weeks ago with 50.49% of the vote. He called for unity and said there was “no room for revenge” after a tough campaign. He was greeted on Tuesday with a flurry of flattering newspaper headlines in Kenya.

In a staged chain of announcements, he also gave an olive branch to supporters of his main rival, Raila Odinga, a former prime minister and opposition leader who had been thwarted four times before. in an attempt to win the presidency.

But two main factors helped keep voters ahead. The first is a worrying split in the election commission, four of which seven members said on Monday they could not accept the results due to the opaque nature of the counting. Their statement was made even before Mr Ruto was declared the winner and is likely to appear in any court challenge to the election results.

The second is Mr. Odinga’s silence. He was scheduled to hold a news conference later on Tuesday, but one of his top aides described Monday’s election headquarters as a “crime scene”.

Previous elections in Kenya, a country whose democracy is closely watched across Africa and beyond, have resulted in staged violence.

After the 2007 election, at least 1,200 people were killed and about 600,000 others were forced to flee their homes. This time, religious and civic leaders, as well as many political classes and security forces, emphasized the importance of accepting the outcome and resolving disputes through the courts.

Wycliffe Oburu, 23, a supporter of Mr Odinga, said: “We are waiting for Baba to speak by the name the veteran opposition leader is often called. “We can’t lose this election.”

On Tuesday morning, the electoral commission officially announced Mr. Ruto’s election as president in a special edition of the government’s Kenya Gazette, in a move that appeared to emphasize the legitimacy of the result. announced the day before.

Many of Mr Odinga’s supporters view Mr Ruto and his appeal to Kenya, which Mr Ruto calls a “hustle nation”, with extreme suspicion. And for voters in western Kenya, a national stronghold for Mr. Odinga where many say they have been removed from the acting presidency since independence, Monday’s announcement of Mr. Ruto’s victory caused pain.

In towns along the eastern edge of Kisumu County in western Kenya, soot from burnt tires, as well as rocks and sticks, littered the streets on Tuesday, evidence of protests overnight yesterday. Large boulders and boulders can also be seen along a major highway that runs from Kisumu, a city on the shores of Lake Victoria, to Busia, near the border with Uganda.

Protesters on that highway clashed with police overnight, according to witnesses, and young men gathered at bus stations and shops on Tuesday to await his speech. Mr. Odinga. There were no other reports of clashes, although an election official in Embakasi, an area east of the capital Nairobi, was found dead after going missing, media reported on Tuesday. It remains unclear whether his death was related to the vote.

The key to any challenge to the outcome would be any evidence that the voting or the number of votes was significantly flawed. Mr Odinga challenged the results of the 2017 election, which he lost to Uhuru Kenyatta, at the Supreme Court, which ruled that the election should be annulled and reorganized. Three months later, Mr. Kenyatta won again, although Mr. Odinga had asked his supporters to boycott the vote. In a move to address the shifting coalitions that are hallmarks of Kenyan politics, this time Mr Kenyatta backed Mr Odinga.

A statement Tuesday by the respected Election Watch Group, which includes civic and faith-based groups, could make Mr Odinga’s task more difficult. The team analyzed the published results themselves and concluded that they were broadly accurate.

The Detailed Report concluded that the results the team had seen were “consistent” with those reported by the election commission.

Abdi Latif Dahir reported from Kisumu, and Declan Walsh and Matthew Mpoke Bigg from Nairobi, Kenya.

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