Ruto won with 50.49% of the vote, defeating veteran opposition leader and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, who was contesting his fifth election.
He will become Kenya’s fifth president since independence, winning the seat on his first attempt. Ruto’s party, the Kenya First coalition, has won a majority of seats in Kenya’s Senate, the second highest in the National Assembly.
The announcement of results was delayed for more than two hours past the constitutional deadline and the country’s electoral commission was divided, after four officials denied commission chairman Wafula Chebukati’s results.
The opposing officials held a separate press conference at another location where they contested the official results. IEBC deputy chairman Juliana Cherera was among those who disagreed with the results but gave no evidence of irregularities.
Earlier on Monday, Ruto’s rival Odinga’s coalition also rejected the election results before they had even been announced by Kenya’s Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).
Odinga’s chief agent Saitabao Kanchory told the press outside the national election center in Nairobi that they had not yet been able to cross-check the final result with their own tally.
“When we see them, we want to verify them, when we verify them, we will be able to know and tell the Kenyan people, because a result that is not verifiable is not a result.” Kanchory told reporters awaiting the results. announcement.
The national counting center briefly descended into chaos shortly after Odinga’s coalition rejected the results, with fighting breaking out and chairs being thrown in the building.
“It ain’t over till it’s over”
Ruto thanked the people of Kenya for voting him as the country’s next leader in his first speech after being announced as the winner of the election.
“In this election there are no losers. The people of Kenya have won because we have raised the political level. The people of Kenya are the biggest winners,” he said
He expressed his “gratitude” to Kenyan citizens “who refused to be wrapped in tribal cocoons.”
He also thanked his competitor and veteran opposition leader Raila Odinga, saying: “We were dwelling on issues and trying to sell an agenda to the people of Kenya during the campaign.”
“It was God who brought us here…my team and I want to make sure that the sacrifices that many Kenyans have made are not in vain…I want to lead a transparent, open, democratic government and I want to work with the opposition to in it degree they provide oversight over my administration,” he added.
There was a divided response to the presidential election results in Kenya on Monday evening. In Eldoret, live footage from Ruto’s hometown showed large crowds celebrating and cheering his victory.
But in Kisumu, Odinga’s stronghold, protests broke out. Live images showed parties protesting the election results, tires on fire and smoke billowing into the air.
But Ruto’s populist “man-of-the-people” approach, rejecting political dynasties and playing on anti-elite sentiment in the country, endeared him to voters.
He was able to transcend Kenya’s traditionally dynastic politics to beat Odinga, the son of Kenya’s first vice president.
During the campaign, Ruto described himself as “the butler”, citing his humble beginnings as a chicken seller who fought his way to the top of Kenyan politics.
Political analyst Herman Manyora told CNN ahead of the election that “Ruto has excited the youth … almost in a euphoric sense.”
Ruto, a former teacher who holds a doctorate in plant ecology from the University of Nairobi, has promised to prioritize Kenya’s economy and “uplift ordinary citizens” as president.
He will come under pressure to provide solutions to Kenya’s pressing economic problems, including rising debt, high food and fuel prices and mass youth unemployment.
Ruto has a long and checkered history in Kenyan politics and was also tried alongside President Kenyatta in 2013 at the International Criminal Court in the Netherlands for alleged crimes against humanity following deadly election violence in 2007. However, the charges were later dropped.