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Kenya's president-elect urges unity after polls

By OTIATO OPALI in Nairobi, Kenya | China Daily | Updated: 2022-08-17 09:12
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A general view of local daily newspapers with headlines reporting the election of Kenya's 5th President elect William Ruto, in Eldoret on Aug 16, 2022. [Photo/Agencies]

Kenya's Deputy President William Ruto pledged to extend a hand of friendship to political rivals, unite the country and advance shared growth and prosperity, after winning the presidential election.

Tensions arose in Kenya on Monday after Ruto was named the winner of the country's presidential election, despite divisions in the electoral commission over the validity of the result.

Ruto, who touted himself as a champion of the poor during his campaigns, took 50.49 percent of the votes. Raila Odinga, his closest competitor and former prime minister, gained 48.85 percent of the votes in the polls that were held last Tuesday.

However, moments before the results were released by Wafula Chebukati, chairman of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, four of the seven members of the commission disowned the results.

Led by the electoral commission's vice-chairperson Juliana Cherera, the four commissioners, who were absent at the official announcement of the results, said the commission had carried out the election process in a fair manner until the tallying of the presidential results.

The split in the commission came minutes after Odinga's chief agent said they could not verify the results and made allegations of electoral offenses without giving details or evidence.

Odinga, who did not attend the declaration of the results, has not officially conceded defeat. On Tuesday, Odinga vowed to pursue "all constitutional and legal options" after rejecting the outcome of the election.

Immediately after the announcement of the presidential results, protests broke out in some parts of the country, mainly Odinga's strongholds in western Kenya, the capital Nairobi and the eastern part of the country.

The Judiciary of Kenya has issued guidelines for filing presidential election petitions after the IEBC declared Ruto as president-elect.

According to the notice released on Monday, all advocates, litigants and members of the general public have been advised to file their petitions at the Supreme Court registry 14 hours before the deadline on Aug 23.

If there are questions regarding the validity of a presidential election, a person may file a petition to the Supreme Court to challenge the election within seven days after the declaration of the results.

The Supreme Court will hear and determine the petition within 14 days and its decision shall be final. If the Supreme Court declares the election to be invalid, a fresh election will be conducted within 60 days after the decision is rendered.

If no petition is filed or a petition is filed and the election is upheld, the president-elect will be sworn in by the Chief Justice.

'Candid discussion'

In his acceptance speech, Ruto revealed that he had held a phone call with his main rival Odinga on Monday morning.

He also said they had a candid discussion on the way forward for the country.

"As a democrat, maybe I should disclose that this morning, I called my competitor, the honorable Raila Odinga, and I had a discussion with him. We agreed that whatever the outcome of this election, we should have a conversation," Ruto said.

"I say that I will be available for us to have a cup of tea, because there are areas we can agree on in moving the country forward."

Several African heads of state, including Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, have sent congratulatory messages to Ruto for winning the elections and to Kenyans for largely conducting themselves in a peaceful manner during the process.

Xinhua and agencies contributed to this story.

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