News and Music Discovery
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

In Kenya's presidential election, William Ruto is declared the winner


According to the head of an election commission, Kenya has a new president-elect.


The current deputy president, William Ruto, narrowly defeated his challenger. In some parts of Kenya, people received the news with violent protests; others celebrated.


UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: (Singing in non-English language).

FADEL: The announcement follows a bitter election and a chaotic announcement of the results.

INSKEEP: All of which NPR's East Africa correspondent Eyder Peralta has been covering. He is in Nairobi. Hey there, Eyder.


INSKEEP: So how did yesterday unfold?

PERALTA: It was chaos. First off, right before an announcement, 4 out of the 7 electoral commissioners in the country defected. They left the main tallying center and told reporters that the counting was, quote, "opaque" and they couldn't stand by the final result. And it's important to note that one of the lead candidates in this race had already made claims of rigging. And so the electoral chief pressed on after this happened, and when he got on stage to announce the results, he was attacked. A mob just jumped onstage. They hit some elections officials with chairs. And somehow, the choir kept singing. And somehow, the commissioner came back onstage and declared the results. He said that Deputy President William Ruto had beat Kenya's longtime opposition leader, Raila Odinga by a slim margin, less than 2% of the vote.

INSKEEP: I don't want to get lost in the intricacies of Kenyan election law, but if 4 of the 7 members of the commission defected and did not accept the results, but the head of the commission said the results, those are the results? That is - it's legal, that this is a final, final finding?

PERALTA: Well, look, the opposition leader, the loser here, has seven days to take this to court, and I'm sure that will be litigated.

INSKEEP: What have you been hearing and seeing outside of that chaotic and attacked announcement of the election results?

PERALTA: So, look, last night, we heard celebration but also anger because this is a bitterly divided country, as that result tells you. It's almost 50/50. And at least a couple of people were killed in the violent protests that erupted last night. But then as the night wore on and the fire started to die down, I heard reflection. I spoke to a young guy, Martin Iming'a, and he was hoping that the violence that we had seen earlier wouldn't turn tribal, as it has done before here in Kenya. Essentially, he said he was hoping that Kenyans wouldn't once again get dragged into the disagreements of their politicians. Let's listen.

MARTIN IMING'A: My - I'm from Maasai. I'm a Maasai. My neighbor is a Luo. If I go to my neighbor, he's the one who will give me salt, if I don't have salt. So if I think something beyond elections, then I will not fight my neighbor.

INSKEEP: I want to understand what exactly is going on with the opposition here, Eyder, which seems to be the key question. We in the United States witnessed in the last couple of years a circumstance in which a presidential candidate had clearly a strategy. He talked about how the election was going to be fraudulent months before. And then on the night of the election, according to plan, declared himself the winner without any evidence that he was the winner whatsoever. It was just a lie, but it was part of a larger strategy. When Odinga stopped short of accepting the election results, is that, as far as you can tell, a strategy? Or is he just waiting for the final, final, final result? What's going on here?

PERALTA: I think it's a strategy. Raila Odinga has run five presidential campaigns before. And the last time around he ran, he lost. The courts here threw out that first election. They reran it. And right now, this started as one of the most credible elections that Kenya has run. They made public raw data about 46,000 polling stations. And he is saying that they're rigged, but he's providing no evidence for it so far.

INSKEEP: Eyder, thanks for the update, really appreciate it.

PERALTA: Thank you, Steve.

INSKEEP: NPR's Eyder Peralta is in Nairobi. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.