Kenya on edge as voters reject winner

NAIROBI, Kenya (AFP) — Kenyans were on Tuesday braced for a potential period of uncertainty after William Ruto was proclaimed winner of the hard-fought presidential election but his opponents cried foul.

All eyes were on defeated rival Raila Odinga, who failed at his fifth stab at the presidency but has yet to make any public comments about the outcome of the 9 August election.

After an anxious days -long wait for results, the 55-year-old Ruto was declared president-elect on Monday with a narrow victory over Odinga, the veteran opposition leader who had stood with the backing of the ruling party following a stunning shift in political allegiances.

The aftermath of the largely peaceful vote will be keenly watched as a test of democratic maturity in the East African powerhouse where previous elections have been marred by claims of rigging and bloodshed.

“Ruto it is!” trumpeted the front page headline in People Daily, while The Standard declared “Ruto the 5th,” as he will become Kenya’s fifth president since independence from colonial power Britain in 1963.

The results announcement did little to calm nerves, with the election commission that supervised the vote itself split over the outcome and demonstrators in Odinga’s strongholds hurling stones and setting fire to tires.

On the campaign trail, both Odinga and Ruto had pledged to deal with any disputes in court rather than on the streets.

‘No room for vengeance’

“I will work with all leaders in Kenya so that we can fashion a country that leaves nobody behind,” Ruto said in his victory speech, pledging to run a “transparent, democratic, open government” for all Kenyans.

But his conciliatory message did not stop supporters of 77-year-old Odinga — known as “Baba” (“father” in Swahili) — from packing the streets in his lakeside stronghold of Kisumu, where they clashed with police who fired tear gas to disperse them.

Protests also erupted in two Nairobi slums that have long been Odinga bastions.

The situation on Tuesday appeared to be calm, with some police on patrol as people headed to work, although the streets of the capital Nairobi were emptier than usual.

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