Kenya election results are in, but the dust has yet to settle

On August 15, 2022, the results of the vote count released by the Kenya Independent Election and Boundary Commission showed that the candidate of the “United Democratic Alliance Party” and the current Vice President William Ruto won the presidential election.

  On August 9, Kenya held a presidential election. About 14 million people voted, and the turnout rate was about 65%. On August 15, the results of the vote count released by the Kenya Independent Election and Boundary Commission (“Election Commission”) showed that the “United Democratic Alliance Party” candidate and current Vice President William Ruto won 50.49% of the votes and won the general election. .
  Kenya is a major country in East Africa, with an important geographical location and rapid economic development. Its previous general elections have attracted the attention of the international community due to fierce election battles, complex tribal political backgrounds and continuous post-election conflicts.
The election is fierce

  Among the four candidates vying for the presidency this year, Vice President Ruto and former Prime Minister Odinga are the most popular candidates.
  The current President Kenyatta’s term expires this year, and according to the constitution, he cannot run for election again. Kenya’s domestic politics has also completed a new round of reshuffle before the general election. Kenyatta and Odinga competed against each other in the 2012 and 2017 presidential elections, with Kenyatta winning. In recent years, the conflict between Kenyatta and Ruto has intensified, but in order to continue to participate in the distribution of power in the next government, Odinga, the arch-nemesis, achieved the “handshake of the century”. Previously, the two sides jointly launched the “Bridge Building Initiative”, which involved adding prime ministers and deputy prime ministers, and increasing the representation of opposition parties in the government. Kenyatta tried to push through the “Bridge Building Initiative” to amend the constitution with a view to serving as prime minister in the next government, but the Supreme Court of Kenya ruled in May 2021 that the initiative was “unconstitutional”, breaking the political design of the two. However, the “Ken-O Alliance” has not broken down. Kenyatta still firmly supports Odinga. In February this year, Vice President Ruto’s faction was removed from the ruling party and announced to join Odinga’s election alliance. In the campaign, Kenyatta spared no effort to stand for Odinga. Kenyatta belongs to the Kikuyu tribe (17% of the total population), the largest tribe in Kenya, and Odinga belongs to the Luo tribe (10% of the total population). Odinga’s election prospects.
  The current vice president of Kenya, Ruto, had a “gentleman’s agreement” with Kenyatta. Ruto and his Kalenkin tribe supported Kenyatta in the previous two general elections, and Kenyatta should support Ruto in 2022. elected. As Kenyatta turned to support Odinga, the conflict between Kenyatta and Ruto became public and intensified. After Ruto was removed from the ruling party, he gathered his supporters to form a new political party and formed a campaign alliance with several small and medium-sized parties. Ruto stressed that the government should not only benefit a few in power, advocated the establishment of a democratic, rule-of-law, and inclusive political system, and advocated that national resources should be more inclined to rural and remote areas. Relying on his alliance, Ruto has won the support of the Kenluthiya (14% of the country’s population) and the Kalenkin (11% of the population). He also actively promoted the “Grass People’s Movement” and labelled himself a “civilian politician”, attracting the support of young people and lower-level voters.
  The 77-year-old Odinga has rich experience as a political veteran and has advantages in politics, tribes, media and other resources; the 56-year-old Luto is young and powerful, good at speech and agitation, and is deeply trusted by the people at the bottom. Both sides have “iron plates”, and they are indistinguishable in pre-election polls, with support rates fluctuating between 45% and 50%. After the vote count in the general election began, the two sides alternated in the lead, and in the end Ruto defeated Odinga with a narrow advantage of 50.49% (vote rate) to 48.85%.
Controversy remains

  Kenya’s general election has always been full of controversy and repetition. In previous general elections, the loser accused the winner of “fraud” and refused to recognize the election results. The candidates and the political parties behind them all have a strong color of “tribal political parties”, and the tribal forces represented by the losing party are easily incited and easily lead to violent conflicts. After the 2007 general election, Odinga, who lost the election, did not recognize the results of the election. Thousands of people were killed in the ethnic violence in Kenya. In 2017, Odinga filed an appeal after losing the election. The election result was overturned by the Supreme Court, and Ken held a new election.
  This election also caused a lot of controversy. There were differences of opinion within the Election Commission, with four of the seven members expressing their disapproval of the election results. On August 16, Odinga officially announced that he would not recognize the results of the general election, saying that “there have been many violations in the election and will resort to all possible legal means to maintain justice.” Mass demonstrations have broken out in the Kisumu area, Odinga’s “base camp”.
  According to Kenya’s constitution, if the losing party disagrees with the result of the general election, it can appeal to the Supreme Court within seven days. If a majority of at least four judges reach an unanimous opinion, the ruling can be passed, and the ruling is final, and no appeal will be accepted after that. If the election result is ruled invalid, the Election Commission has 60 days to organize a new ballot.
  Odinga is backed by President Kenyatta, and his partner Kaluuya was the Minister of Justice of Kenya. His camp has deep resources in the administrative and judicial circles. This appeal is basically a foregone conclusion. However, judging from the results of previous elections, the Supreme Court of Kenya rarely overturns the election results. After the “special case” in 2017, the original winner (Kenyatta) won the re-election again and was successfully re-elected. 18,000 observers oversaw the election, including 1,300 international observers. Odinga has run for president five times, but lost all of them, and this is his last chance to run for the presidency. Judging from the current situation, Odinga will make a last-ditch effort, but there is little chance of a comeback.
foreign policy direction

  During Kenyatta’s tenure, China-Kenya relations reached the best level in history. Kenya has become a model country for China-Africa “Belt and Road” cooperation, and many major projects such as “Mumbai Railway” have been implemented. China and Kenya have reached consensus on a series of international issues and cooperated and supported each other on the international stage. Odinga has a friendly attitude towards China and worked hard to promote China-Kenya cooperation during his tenure as prime minister.
  Ruto basically maintained a friendly and cooperative attitude towards China during most of his tenure as vice president. Luto, who was born at a very young age, made a living by selling small commodities when he was young, and positioned himself as a “grassroots spokesperson”. During this general election, in order to fight against the “Ken-O Alliance”, Ruto began to openly oppose almost all of Kenyatta’s domestic and foreign policies, especially the “debt development”, and also made some controversial remarks related to China.
  Ruto visited the United States in February this year, saying that the United States “has a special position” in Kenya’s diplomacy and will establish a “close ally” relationship with the United States. The United States is also stepping up its efforts to win over Kenya. Its Secretary of State Blinken visited Kenya on his first trip to Africa in November last year. Economically, he will promote the negotiation of the U.S.-Kenya Free Trade Agreement, and militarily, it will increase support for Kenya to fight against the “Shabaab” in Somalia.
  It should be noted that China-Kenya cooperation has brought tangible benefits to the Kenyan people and economic development. Projects such as the “Mumonia-Nairobi Railway” have accelerated the pace of Kenya’s modernization, and also promoted the connectivity of East Africa and the win-win development of China and Africa. If Ruto is to lead Kenya out of the predicament and develop its economy after taking office, he also needs to open rather than close the door of cooperation. Historically, political parties in some African countries attacked cooperation with China in domestic elections, but they returned to pragmatic friendship after taking office. Looking forward to the future, the development of China-Kenya relations after Ruto took office cannot rule out challenges, but the foundation of friendly cooperation between the two countries has not changed, and the prospects are still bright.