By Olive Mukahirwa
Two days after presidential elections were held in Kenya, vote counting is still underway. The national mood is anxious, but calm, observers say. According to broadcasters on Citizen TV, a national station that broadcasts primarily in English and Swahili, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) is still counting votes from the more than 46,000 polling stations across the country, and Kenyans still need to wait for a final tally and the formal announcement of who the next president will be.
Media in Kenya is reporting the results differently. Some say that current Deputy President William Ruto holds a slim lead over former Prime Minister Raila Odinga in early results, while others say the reverse is true. The IEBC said it is following electoral rules, and the constitution, and that there are still millions of votes to be counted, so it is too early to declare a winner.
Wafula Chebukati, the chair of the IEBC, has urged Kenyans to be patient. To win the presidential race, a candidate must receive more than 50% of the vote, and at least 25% a in 24 counties out of the country’s 47 counties. If no candidate meets that threshold the electoral commission must schedule a runoff vote. The Kenyan electoral commission said that only 14 million of 22 million registered Kenyans cast their vote in this election. The voter turnout rate of about 65% was significantly lower than in 2017, the last presidential election, when about 80% voted.
Raila Amolo Odinga, 77, former member of Parliament for Langata, a suburb of Nairobi, is among those favored to win. He is a businessman who served as Prime Minister of Kenya from 2008 to 2013 and has run for the presidency more than three times before without winning.
William Samoei Arap Ruto, 55, has served as the Deputy President of Kenya since 2013, and is the UDA-Kenya Kwanza presidential candidate. He is reportedly running neck in neck with Raila Odinga for next president of Kenya. He has appealed to Kenyans to reject his opponent, partly on the grounds of age. Odinga is 77 years old. But Odinga hit back at Ruto in an interview with CNN, saying that the U.S. president is older than he is, and age is not an issue.