William Ruto went from being a chicken seller to becoming the President of Kenya

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NAIROBI, Sept 5 – Kenya’s Supreme Court on Monday unanimously upheld William Ruto’s victory in the presidency in a scathing ruling that dismissed opposition leader Raila Odinga’s allegations of cheating.

Soon after, Odinga tweeted that he would respect the verdict even if he disagreed with it, allaying fears that Kenya could see a repeat of the violence that followed disputed votes in 2007 and 2017.

Several public figures and anti-corruption campaigners – including some who supported Odinga – welcomed the verdict, saying it boosted the court’s reputation for independence.

“This decision is good for the judiciary. This election result is bad for Kenya. Two things can be true at the same time,” wrote author Nanjala Nyabola, who did not endorse either candidate, on Twitter.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken congratulated Ruto on his election victory and said Washington praised him and other candidates for following the Supreme Court ruling. “We look forward to strengthening [our] partnership with President Ruto and his new government,” Blinken said in a statement.

There were no immediate signs of protest in Odinga’s stronghold of Kisumu or in the low-income neighborhoods of Nairobi that traditionally support the leftist politician.

“There is nothing we can do, the judgment has been made,” said Geoffrey Omondi, a 33-year-old electrical engineer who supported Odinga.

Ruto’s jubilant supporters danced and waved flags in his party’s colors of yellow and green.

East Africa’s richest and most powerful nation has been on the hook since an August 9 election that pitted Ruto – a former chicken seller – against members of the country’s two most powerful political families. Read more

Similar allegations of rigging sparked deadly electoral violence, often with ethnic undertones, during the two previous polls. Read more

President Martha Koome, who heads the seven-judge high court, left no doubt about the court’s position on key arguments brought by Odinga’s team and other applicants. Read more

She dismissed some affidavits that polling station results forms had been tampered with as “double hearsay” – and one as “no more than hot air … a wild goose chase”.

“Some of the (computer) logs presented as evidence … were either from logs originating from the 2017 election or were outright forgeries,” she said.

Kenyan opposition leader Odinga filed a petition against the outcome of the presidential election
General Elections in Kenya
Kenya’s Supreme Court judges, led by Chief Justice Martha Koome, are attending the final hearing at the High Court in Nairobi on a petition seeking to annul the result of the recent presidential election.

Koome raised the possibility of perjury, noting that two people who filed affidavits purportedly on behalf of polling agents did not speak to the agents.

“False swearing is a crime,” she said.

She also called for reforms to the Independent Electoral Commission and the Boundaries Commission, saying “a rift in the boardroom” between commissioners had undermined public confidence.

Four of the seven electoral commissioners renounced Ruto’s victory minutes before it was formally announced, saying the counting process was opaque. But dissenting commissioners had previously attended the census without raising any concerns, Koome said. Read more

“We confirm the decision of the Supreme Court,” commissioner Juliana Cherera told Reuters.

The history between Odinga, Ruto and outgoing President Uhuru Kenyatta underscores the intricate ties between elite families and the primacy of personality over politics.

Ruto was Kenyatta’s vice president, but the two fell out and Kenyatta backed Odinga in the vote.

In a speech after the judgment, Ruto gently poked fun at his predecessor and former ally, saying: “I have yet to speak to my… friend Uhuru Kenyatta.”

Waves of laughter rippled through the audience before Ruto dissolved into uncontrollable laughter on stage.

He later vowed to respect both Kenyatta and Odinga and said he would stop law enforcement from launching any politically motivated corruption probes – which he blamed on Kenyatta’s government.

Ruto said he would not recruit Odinga to serve in his government, saying the country needed a functioning opposition and such an alliance had created a “hybrid government”.

Kenyatta is the son of the country’s first president and Odinga the son of the first vice president.

Ruto, now a wealthy businessman, portrayed himself as an underdog battling the elite – a message resonating with chronically underemployed youth and families squeezed by global inflation and uncontrollable fortunes.

Later in a speech posted on YouTube, Kenyatta said he would oversee a smooth transition to the next administration. Ruto will be sworn in on September 13.

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