Kenya’s Supreme Court unanimously upheld William Ruto’s presidential victory on Monday in a stinging decision that slammed opposition leader Raila Odinga’s accusations of fraud.
Soon after, Odinga tweeted that he would respect the ruling even though he disagreed with it, assuaging fears that Kenya would see a repeat of the violence that followed disputed votes in 2007 and 2017.
Several public figures and anti-corruption campaigners, including some who had supported Odinga, praised the decision, saying it bolstered the court’s reputation for independence.
“This decision is beneficial to the judiciary. This election result is detrimental to Kenya. It is possible for two things to be true at the same time “Nanjala Nyabola, an author who has not endorsed either candidate, tweeted.
There were no immediate signs of protest in Odinga’s stronghold of Kisumu or the low-income Nairobi neighbourhoods that have traditionally supported the left-wing politician.
“There is nothing we can do; the decision has been made,” said Geoffrey Omondi, a 33-year-old electrical engineer who backed Odinga.
Ruto’s ecstatic supporters danced and waved flags in his party’s yellow and green colours.
Since the Aug. 9 elections, which pitted Ruto – a former chicken seller – against two of the nation’s two most powerful political families, East Africa’s most wealthy and influential nation has been on pins and needles.
During the previous two elections, similar accusations of cheating sparked deadly election violence, often with ethnic overtones.
The Supreme Court’s seven-member bench, led by Chief Justice Martha Koome, left no doubt about the court’s stance on key arguments raised by Odinga’s team and other complainants.
She dismissed some affidavits alleging tampering with polling station results forms as “double hearsay” and one as “nothing more than hot air… a wild goose chase.”
“Some of the (computer) logs presented as evidence… were either log from the 2017 election or outright forgeries,” she said.
Koome raised the possibility of perjury, pointing out that two people who allegedly filed affidavits on behalf of polling station agents had not spoken to the agents.
“Swearing to falsehoods is a crime,” she explained.
She also called for changes at the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, claiming that a “boardroom split” among the commissioners had harmed public trust.
Four of the seven election commissioners had disavowed Ruto’s victory minutes before it was formally announced, claiming that the counting process was flawed. The dissenting commissioners, however, had previously participated in the tallying without raising any concerns, according to Koome.
“We uphold the Supreme Court decision,” said dissenting commissioner Juliana Cherera, according to Reuters.
We have always stood for the the rule of law and the constitution.
In this regard, we respect the opinion of the court although we vehemently disagree with their decision today. pic.twitter.com/WfOQrtsnpe
— Raila Odinga (@RailaOdinga) September 5, 2022
The history of Odinga, Ruto, and outgoing President Uhuru Kenyatta highlights the tangled ties between elite families, as well as the primacy of personality over politics.
Ruto was Kenyatta’s vice president until they fell out, and Kenyatta supported Odinga in the election.
In a speech following the verdict, Ruto made light of his predecessor and former ally, saying, “I have yet to speak to my… friend Uhuru Kenyatta.”
Ripples of laughter rippled through the audience before Ruto burst out laughing at the podium.
Later, he promised to respect both Kenyatta and Odinga and to stop any politically motivated corruption investigations, which he accused Kenyatta’s government of doing.
Ruto stated that he would not appoint Odinga to his government, claiming that the country required a functioning opposition and that such alliances created a “mongrel of a government.”
Kenyatta is the first president’s son, and Odinga is the first vice president’s son.
Ruto, now a wealthy businessman, portrayed himself as an underdog facing off against the elite, a message that resonated with chronically unemployed youth and families strained by global inflation and rampant graft.
On September 13, Ruto will be sworn in.
Following the Kenya Presidential elections on Monday, Raila Odinga has rejected the results, indicating that the results are “null and void”.
— Clicks 'n Likes (@clicksnlikes) August 16, 2022
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