The Supreme Court of Kenya validated this Monday in Nairobi the victory of the current vice president of the country, William Rutoin the presidential elections on August 9, and put an end to the political suspense that had kept the entire African nation on edge.
The Supreme Court, the highest court in Kenya, rejected the nine appeals filed against the electoral result, including the most significant: the one presented by its main adversary, the former prime minister and opposition leader, Raila Odinga.
“The appeals for the presidential election of 2022 are dismissed. As a consequence, we declare valid the election of the first defendant (Ruto) as elected president, in accordance with article 143 of the Constitution,” said the president of the court, Martha Koome.
“This is a unanimous decision of the court”, made up of seven judges, Koome stressed about a ruling that does not admit appeal.
On August 15, the president of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEBC), Wafula Chabukatipublished the results of the elections, which They gave victory to Ruto, 55, with 50.49% of the votes.
Odinga, 77 years old and who was running for the Presidency for the fifth time, received 48.85% of the votes, but he called the figures “illegal” and on August 22 he challenged the result before the Supreme Court so that the court annulled the elections, as it did in 2017.
Chabukati’s announcement was marred by statements from four of the seven IEBC commissioners, who questioned the results, saying the vote count was “opaque”.
Nevertheless, The Supreme Court did not find “credible evidence” that, as Odinga alleged, foreign agents -including three Venezuelans detained in Nairobi with electoral material before the elections- penetrated the IEBC servers to manipulate the results.
The judges also saw no evidence to support the claims of the four rogue IEBC commissioners, who abandoned Chabukati during the announcement of the results.
“Are we going to annul an election on the basis of a last-minute break in the boardroom, the details of which remain scant and contradictory? We cannot do this”, settled Koome when reading the verdict, very often in the country in the streets, restaurants and hotels where the judicial session was broadcast on television.
Known the resolution of the Supreme, Ruto will be invested as the new head of state on September 13after emerging victorious in his first bid for the presidency, and will become the fifth president of Kenya since independence in 1963.
Ruto will replace Uhuru Kenyattawho is serving the second and last five-year term allowed by the Constitution and supported Odinga after falling out in 2018 with his vice president, who rejected the political truce agreed then by his boss with the opposition leader.
In a message addressed to the nation after learning of the court decision, the elected president stated that the ruling confirms the “choice of the people of Kenya.”
“I’m overwhelmed. This is a day like no other. Let me take this opportunity to give thanks to God. Is God. Without him, we wouldn’t be here.”said Ruto, a devout Christian, from his residence in the wealthy Karen neighborhood in Nairobi, where he promised to “work hard” to respond to the “enormous expectations” generated.
Ruto won the election after a campaign in which, appealing to his humble origins (although he is now one of the richest politicians in Kenya) and the message that Kenya is a “hustlers nation” (“A hustlers nation”), it attracted the vote of the most disadvantaged in the context of the rising cost of living due to the war in Ukraine, among other factors.
In this sense, Ruto also presented the electoral contest as a struggle between the “hustlers”, those people of humble origin who climb the social ladder based on their effort, and the political “dynasties” represented by Kenyatta and Odinga, sons of the first president and first vice president of the country, respectively.
Odinga, for his part, reluctantly accepted the Supreme Court ruling, which could mean the end of a long career for a man who was a political prisoner in the 1980s and fought for the establishment of multiparty democracy in 1991.
“We respect the Court’s opinion, even though we vehemently disagree with its decision”The veteran opposition leader, who has already alleged being a victim of fraud in the 2007, 2013 and 2017 elections, said in a statement.
“This trial is by no means the end of our movement, which inspires us to redouble our efforts to transform this country into a prosperous democracy,” Odinga added.
This legal battle had plunged Kenya, a key Western ally in the troubled Horn of Africa region and regional headquarters of many international companies and organizations, into a period of uncertainty. and had unleashed fears of a repeat of the violence that rocked previous elections.
Following Odinga’s narrow defeat in 2007, his exposure of suspected fraud sparked a wave of ethnically tinged riots that left more than 1,100 dead and 600,000 displaced.
However, the verdict of the Supreme Court was greeted today with jubilant demonstrations by Ruto’s supporters in many parts of the country, while calm prevailed in the streets of Odinga bastions such as the city of Kisumu (west).
(With information from EFE)
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