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Nervous Kenya is awaiting word from the loser of the presidency after the controversial vote

#Nervous #Kenya #awaiting #word #loser #presidency #controversial #vote

Nervous Kenyans waited Tuesday to hear from Raila Odinga, the defeated rival of President-elect William Ruto. Many speculated that he would legally challenge the outcome of the country’s tight election campaign.

Ruto’s opponents wept on Monday after he was declared the winner of the Aug. 9 election in a close race with Odinga, and the result also sparked divisions in the body responsible for overseeing the vote.

The aftermath of the election is being watched with suspense as a test of democratic maturity in the East African powerhouse, where previous elections have been marred by allegations of rigging and bloodshed.

Veteran opposition leader Odinga failed at his fifth attempt at the top, even after running with the support of his old adversary, outgoing President Uhuru Kenyatta.

The 77-year-old has not made any public comments since Election Day, but his party agent on Monday described the electoral process as “shambolic” and said it was marred by irregularities and mismanagement.

Odinga will now address the nation at 2pm (1100 GMT).

Kenya could face a long period of political uncertainty if a court challenges Odinga, who says he was cheated of victory in the 2007, 2013 and 2017 presidential elections.

– “We don’t need to protest” –

In August 2017, the Supreme Court annulled the election after Odinga rejected a Kenyatta victory and dozens of people were killed by police during the ensuing protests.

The worst electoral violence in Kenya’s history came after a disputed vote in 2007, which Odinga also lost, when more than 1,100 people were killed in bloodshed between rival tribes.

During the election campaign, both top candidates promised to resolve disputes in court rather than on the street.

Despite this, violent protests erupted in Odinga’s strongholds in the Nairobi slums and in the lakeside town of Kisumu on Monday night, although the situation was calm on Tuesday.

Weary Kenyans already grappling with a severe cost of living crisis say they just want to get on with life.

“I don’t think we need to protest. We have to take care of our families. Protests are expensive. They can even cost your life,” said Bernard Isiedia, a 32-year-old taxi driver and father of two who voted for Odinga.

“Life has to get back to normal,” he told the AFP news agency.

“Raila Odinga should come out and tell people to calm down. His word alone will calm this country.”

– “No Room for Vengeance” –

Ruto, the 55-year-old vice president who was marginalized after Kenyatta’s pact with Odinga, sounded conciliatory in his victory speech on Monday.

“I will work with all leaders in Kenya so we can build a country that leaves no one behind,” Ruto said, pledging to lead a “transparent, democratic and open government.”

“There is no place for revenge.”

He said the election was waged on issues such as “ethnic configurations” in a country where tribal affiliations have influenced every election since independence from Britain in 1963.

No presidential election result has gone unchallenged in Kenya since 2002, and a court challenge by Odinga is almost certain, as fellow campaigner Martha Karua tweeted, “It’s not over until it’s over.”

– “Opaque” process –

The race remained unpredictable to the end, with Ruto scoring 50.49 percent of the vote, compared to 48.85 percent for Odinga, according to Wafula Chebukati, chairman of the Independent Electoral and Boundary Commission.

But in an extraordinary move just before the announcement, four of the IEBC’s seven commissioners denied the findings, with one calling the process “opaque” but giving no details.

The IEBC has been under intense pressure to achieve a clean and transparent vote after facing harsh criticism for its handling of the annulled 2017 election.

Chebukati, who was IEBC chief in 2017, insisted he had performed his duties under the country’s law despite “intimidation and harassment.”

Any challenge must be submitted within seven days to the Supreme Court, which then has 14 days to make a decision. If it orders the repeal, a new vote must be taken within 60 days.

“The election is far from over,” said Nic Cheeseman, a political scientist at the University of Birmingham in England, on Twitter. “Expect a lot of controversy. Expect a trial. Expect this to keep going and going.”

Barring a court motion, Ruto will take the oath of office in two weeks, becoming the fifth president since independence.

But he will inherit a country already struggling with soaring prices, a crippling drought that is starving millions, endemic corruption and disenchantment with the political elite.

While a host of African leaders congratulated Ruto, the US embassy instead hailed Kenyan voters and urged political rivals to settle their differences peacefully.

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