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Kenya’s deputy president Ruto declared election winner

The electoral commission’s vice chairman said they could not support the ‘opaque nature’ of the final phase.

Kenya Election
Kenya Election

Deputy president William Ruto has been declared the winner of the close Kenyan presidential election over five-time contender Raila Odinga.

It is a triumph for the man who shook up politics by appealing to struggling Kenyans on economic terms and not on traditional ethnic ones.

But chaos emerged just before the declaration when the electoral commission’s vice chairman and three other commissioners told journalists they could not support the “opaque nature” of the final phase.

“We cannot take ownership of the result that is going to be announced,” vice chairwoman Juliana Cherera said.

Kenya Elections
Supporters of William Ruto celebrate at his party headquarters in Nairobi (Mosa’ab Elshamy/AP)

At the declaration venue, police tried to impose calm amid the shouting.

The sudden split in the commission came minutes after Mr Odinga’s chief agent said they could not verify the results and made allegations of “electoral offences” without giving details or evidence.

Mr Odinga did not go to the venue for the declaration.

Kenyans must now wait to see whether Mr 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 attempt for the 77-year-old longtime opposition figure backed this time by former rival and outgoing president Uhuru Kenyatta, who fell out with his deputy, Mr Ruto, years ago.

Mr Ruto, despite being sidelined by the president, had told voters that the election was between “hustlers” like him from modest backgrounds and the “dynasties” of Kenyatta and Odinga, whose fathers were Kenya’s first president and vice president.

Mr Odinga has sought the presidency for a quarter of a century.

Mr Ruto in his acceptance speech thanked Mr Odinga and emphasised an election that focused on issues and not ethnic divisions, saying that “gratitude goes to millions of Kenyans who refused to be boxed into tribal cocoons”.

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