Kenya's Ruto says no time to waste after election as rival prepares court challenge

Kenya's president-elect William Ruto said on Wednesday there was no time to waste in tackling an economic crisis, as defeated rival Raila Odinga prepared a legal challenge to overturn his loss in Aug. 9's election.


Reuters | Updated: 17-08-2022 19:36 IST | Created: 17-08-2022 19:36 IST
Kenya's Ruto says no time to waste after election as rival prepares court challenge

Kenya's president-elect William Ruto said on Wednesday there was no time to waste in tackling an economic crisis, as defeated rival Raila Odinga prepared a legal challenge to overturn his loss in Aug. 9's election. Ruto was declared president-elect on Monday by Kenya's election commission chairman after a closely fought race to lead East Africa's richest country, but four of the seven election commissioners have challenged the results.

Odinga has said he will contest the decision in court, calling it a "travesty". Ruto nevertheless said he was forging ahead with creating an administration, promising that no Kenyan would be excluded, whatever their political or ethnic affiliation.

"I really want us to know that the expectations of the people of Kenya are huge. We don't have the luxury of wasting time," Ruto, currently deputy president, said after meeting elected officials from his alliance at his official residence. The 55-year-old did not directly address Odinga's plan to challenge his victory, but said: "If there will be court processes, we will engage because we adhere to the rule of law."

The election was seen as a test of stability for a close Western ally that hosts regional headquarters of multinational firms, such as Alphabet Inc. The United Nations Environment Programme is headquartered in Nairobi. At a separate meeting in the capital, elected officials from Odinga's alliance met to chart their next steps in what is likely to be a bruising legal battle over the election result.

Odinga did not speak at the event but his running mate, Martha Karua, a former justice minister, said: "Ours is victory deferred." "As we explore legal and constitutional avenues, let everybody know, victory is coming home," Karua told the meeting.

"We are confident that we shall overcome the chicanery and reclaim our victory in due course," Odinga later tweeted. Odinga, 77, a former prime minister who was making his fifth run for the presidency, has until Monday to file a petition at the Supreme Court.

He has gone down this path before, in 2013 and in 2017, when the presidential election result was quashed. The court said on Wednesday it was ready to handle any petition and was making preparations just in case.

'NO MONEY' President Uhuru Kenyatta's successor will have to tackle a surge in in food and fuel prices triggered by the war in Ukraine, rising unemployment and a mountain of debt that served to finance development through Kenyatta's 10 years in office.

Kenyatta, who backed Odinga and criticised his deputy as unreliable, has said borrowing built infrastructure and spurred growth, which has helped the economy double in size over the past decade. Critics say the government left many vulnerable people behind while it focused on roads and railways. Ruto's campaign to become Kenya's fifth president focused on uplifting low-income "hustlers" but policy analysts see little fiscal room for Ruto to deliver quick relief.

"There isn't the money," Robert Shaw, an independent economic policy analyst, said. "The government already has huge domestic debt, has hardly enough revenue to pay wages." With high debt limiting scope for any subsidies, Aly-Khan Satchu, the CEO of investment adviser Rich Management, advocated giving priority to food staples.

"If it was the devil's choice, I would maintain the unga (flour) subsidy over everything else." ($1 = 119.4000 Kenyan shillings)

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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