Kenya’s Deputy President William Ruto has come out to defend the legitimacy of Thursday’s repeat Presidential election, saying that it passes all the minimum standards that qualify one to be declared President. He said that the provisional results and the voter turn up signify that Kenyans defied the persistent calls by the opposition to undermine the election.
Ruto whose Jubilee Party candidate Uhuru Kenyatta maintains a comfortable lead in the tentative results also contested the claims that only 6.5 million voters participated in the poll and instead placed the figure at 7.5 million people.
In an interview with CNN on Saturday, Ruto said; “The legitimacy of any election is determined by the constitution and the people of Kenya. On all constitutional fronts – whether the 50% of voters required or one to win 25% in 24 counties, we passed both. We already have 25% in 44 counties”.
“So, in terms of the constitution the legitimacy question is already passed,” he stated.
As of Thursday 9pm, 170 counties had reported their results to the national tally centre at the BOMAS of Kenya, with 90 more counties left. The provisional results place Uhuru Kenyatta in the lead with 98% of the vote while his main challenger Raila Odinga rallied 1% despite having withdrawn from the race weeks to the polling day.
Ruto accused Odinga for regurgitating a rhetoric that the voter turn up was low as a way “to peddle a narrative that suits his political interests”.”In terms of turn up, it is incorrect for Odinga to say 3.5 million people turned out to vote. In fact 7.5 million voters turned out. The reality is 91% of Kenyans who voted for Uhuru Kenyatta on August 8 election turned up again and voted for us on Thursday,” Ruto told CNN.
Kenya’s voter register comprised of a total of 19.6 million voters.
Asked to clarify on the disparity between IEBC’s 6.5 million figure of the people who voted compared to his figure that is in excess of 1 million voters, the deputy President said IEBC’s figure was an estimate made prior to the comprehensive tally.
“The figures you have [6.5 million people] are as of yesterday. The figure we have as of now is 7.5 There will be a final paper tally tomorrow and when we get there, the figure will speak for themselves.”
Nevertheless, Ruto says that a low voter turn up in a repeat election isn’t peculiar to Kenya. He, however, said that in Kenya, the situation was further worsened by the opposition which consistently rallied the electorate to boycott the election in addition to sponsoring violence and intimidation.
“90% of polling stations opened. 7.5 million Kenyans woke up early and went to vote. It was the intention of the opposition that no Kenyan shows up to vote. But to their dismay, 7.5 million have rejected the boycott story,” Ruto said.
He further criticized Odinga and his fellow opposition politicians for denying voters in the Western part of the country their constitutional right. Polling was not held in some counties including Kisumu, Homa Bay, Siaya and Mongoni which are situated in opposition strongholds due to security concerns.
IEBC cancelled off voting in the said counties over what it said were security threats posed on its polling officials and voters. Police spent the better part of the polling day quelling violent protests in these counties.
Ruto commented; “9% of voters were denied the opportunity to vote because of violence sponsored by our competitors. They [opposition] organized militia that ensured that election officials and materials never made their way into those areas and claimed people didn’t want to vote.”
“Let them remove militia and let us see whether those citizens don’t want to vote,” he said. Ruto called the actions by the opposition as the worst act of injustice.