By Spy Uganda Correspondent
The United States (US) Embassy in Nairobi Kenya has issued a statement on the just-completed General Election that saw Deputy President William Ruto declared the winner on Monday evening.
In a statement released hours after the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) chairman Wafula Chebukati announced the official presidential results, the embassy applauded the commission for organising peaceful and orderly voting and counting process.
“The U.S Embassy congratulates the people of Kenya for exercising their right to vote in the August 9 election. We commend the active participation of Kenya’s political parties, civil society, and citizens in shaping robust discussions throughout the campaign period,” the statement reads in parts.
The Embassy also urged the president-elect William Ruto and his arch-rival Raila Odinga to peacefully resolve any elections concerns as they urge their supporters to maintain peace.
”Under the leadership of Chair Wafula Chebukati, the IEBC declared William Ruto as the winner of the presidential election. This is an important milestone in the electoral process. Going forward, we urge all parties to work together to peacefully resolve any remaining concerns about this election through existing dispute resolution mechanisms. We ask all political party leaders to continue to urge their supporters to remain peaceful and refrain from violence during the electoral process,” the statement added.
The embassy further stated that they were looking forward to a continued partnership with the government and its people.
”The United States and Kenya share a strong partnership. We work together to improve healthcare, promote peace and security in the region, advance respect for human rights, and strengthen our economies. We look forward to continuing to enhance our partnership with the people and government of Kenya” the statement further noted.
Ruto defeated veteran opposition candidate Raila Amolo Odinga in the 2022 Kenya Presidential elections making him the Country’s fifth President succeeding two-term President Uhuru Kenyatta.
The 55-year-old Kenya Kwanza front runner defeated the Uhuru-backed Odinga, 77, with Agano and Roots Party candidates David Mwaure and George Wajackoyah respectively conceding defeat on Sunday to endorse Ruto.
A 2018 truce with longtime foe President Uhuru Kenyatta, who handed him two of those defeats, was seen as a chance for the serial aspirant to finally find success this August.
Opinion polls predicted a win for Odinga ahead of the elections, and some media houses that collated results from the IEBC’s portal also placed him in the lead in the days after the election.
However, he and the incumbent president were outwitted by Ruto, who got his first break as a popular campaigner for President arap Moi in 1992, but was an Odinga ally and agriculture minister in the 2008 coalition government where the latter was prime minister.
Ruto, who called himself a hustler, promised to revive the economy and give more opportunities to everyday citizens, a message that resonated in a country with high unemployment and massive debt.
He referenced his poor beginnings as a chicken seller, in contrast to Odinga and Uhuru, whose fathers became the first vice president and president of Kenya, respectively, back in 1963 when the country became independent from British colonial rule.
Ruto’s victory was marred with drama when the results were due to be announced at 3pm Nairobi time (12:00 GMT), but the IEBC moved it twice, first to 4pm and then 5pm.
Around that time, four of the IEBC’s commissioners broke ranks to stage a brief press conference at the plush Serena Hotel in the heart of the capital and disown the results.
IEBC Deputy Chairperson Juliana Cherera said they left the tallying centre “because of the opaque nature of how this phase has been handled”.
“We therefore cannot take ownership of this result that is going to be announced,” she told the press at Serena.
Cherera and the other three commissioners were appointed to the commission last year by President Kenyatta.
Just as their press conference ended, residents of Kibera and neighbouring areas mobilised to go there. Young men on motorcycles, some with vuvuzela horns and others with Maasai fleece blankets, stood outside the premises singing until a couple of police vehicles drove and parked in front of the hotel, which had quickly locked its gates.
Chelsea Wangui, an Odinga supporter who dashed to Serena, told Al Jazeera afterwards that she was sad about his loss. “I feel so bad about this,” the 20-year old said. “[But] all is well. We live to fight another day.’
There were also ongoing demonstrations across parts of the capital.
And Martha Karua, Odinga’s running mate tweeted: “It is not over until it is over”.
In his acknowledgement speech, the president-elect seemed eager to move on with the task of dousing tension in the country and on to governance itself.
“There is no room for vengeance,” Ruto said, while praising the electoral commission for publishing results on its portal. “I am acutely aware that our country is at a stage where we need all hands on deck.
In Ruto’s hometown of Eldoret, thousands spilled onto the streets in celebration of their native son’s victory over the five-time veteran whose cause he once championed.