William Ruto: From ‘Hustler-in-Chief’ to Kenya’s President-Elect
Dr William Samoei Ruto has politically outmaneuvered veteran opposition chief Raila Odinga and is now poised to become Kenya’s fifth President since independence.
Wafula Chebukati, the chairman of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) declared Dr Ruto ganered 7.18 million votes (50.49 percent) against 6.94 million (48.85 percent) for his rival Raila Odinga, in the August 9 General Election.
The 55-year-old, who run against all odds including rebuffing his boss President Uhuru Kenyatta attained the 50+1 Constitutional threshold of the total votes cast and at least 25 percent of votes in 39 counties. Kenya has 47 counties.
The other two presidential candidates Prof Luchiri Wajakoya and David Mwaure received a combined percentage vote of 0.67 percent of the roughly 14.2 million votes cast.
Mr Chebukati said despite the few challenges, the election was generally successful across the country.
“Having fulfilled the requirements of the law, I wish to declare Honourable William Samoei Ruto as the President-Elect and Honourable Rigathi Gachagua as the Deputy President-Elect of Kenya,” Mr Chebukati said on Monday at 6pm after delays in making the announcement during the day.
On August 9, Kenyans went to the polls, in a peaceful election that had four presidential candidates to elect the country’s fifth president and successor to the incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta.
However, the general election had the lowest voter turnout at 65 percent of the 22.1 million registered voters.
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In his acceptance remarks, Dr Ruto thanked God, his family, all his supporters and Kenyans at large, the IEBC, and international observers.
“I am thankful for the confidence you have shown to me and my administration. The people of Kenya have raised the political bar,” he said.
“I want to thank my worthy competitor Raila Odinga for all the campaigns we did to steer the country forward.”
“In this election, there are no losers. The biggest winner is the IEBC, we all belong to Kenya. I want to congratulate the IEBC for raising the bar, and Wafula Chebukati is our hero.”
The announcement was, however, not short of drama as IEBC’s deputy chairperson and three other commissioners disowned the election results.
“We cannot take ownership of the result that will be announced,” Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) vice chair Juliana Cherera told reporters, saying the process was “opaque”.
Further, in the lakeside city of Kisumu as well as Kibera area in the capital Nairobi, both Mr Odinga’s strongholds, protests ensued in the early hours of Monday night with images showing tires on fire and smoke billowing in the air.
Mr Odinga’s running mate Martha Karua tweeted “It is not over till it is over,” perhaps indicating that the presidential election battle might end up in the Supreme Court just like in 2017 and 2013.
Dr Ruto’s party manifesto, popularly known as the bottom-up economic model, seeks to roll out drastic economic changes to help the less fortunate while lifting thousands of small businesses through affordable financing.
In addition, Dr Ruto has promised to create a cabinet that is equally split between men and women as he seeks to meet gender equality in his government.
Born on December 21, 1966, in Sambut Village, Kamagut, Uasin Gishu County, William Ruto took his basic schooling at Kerotet Primary School.
He later joined Wareng Secondary School before moving to Kapsabet Boys High School in Nandi County.
He graduated with a degree in Botany and Zoology in 1990 from the University of Nairobi, where he would later earn his Ph.D while serving as Kenya’s Deputy President.
The President-Elect says he sold live chickens by the roadside in his home area to make ends meet in his youth, an economic activity that resonated very well with the Kenyan voters, who are currently grappling with a high cost of living and joblessness.
In the campaigns, Dr Ruto who also served as a minister in both President Moi and Kibaki administrations, fashioned himself as the “hustler-in-chief,” citing his humble background as a chicken trader who has built his way up to the apex of Kenyan politics.