Accessibility links

Breaking News

U.S. Congress Comes to Kenya

FILE: A man casts his ballot during the 2022 general elections in Kenya. Taken 8.9.2022

A U.S. congressional delegation has arrived in Kenya to meet with the new declared president-elect and the opposition figure likely to file a court challenge to his election loss in the latest electoral crisis for East Africa’s most stable democracy.

Along with meeting declared Kenya President-Elect William Ruto, the new U.S. ambassador to Kenya, Meg Whitman, says that the Congressional Delegation led by Sen. Chris Coons also will meet with outgoing Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, who has been publicly silent since the largely peaceful Aug. 9 election.

Even though Ruto was Kenyatta’s deputy president, the two fell out years ago, and Kenyatta backed longtime opposition figure Raila Odinga instead.

Odinga says he is exploring “all constitutional and legal options” to challenge Ruto’s presidential win. Odinga campaign has a week from Monday’s declaration of Ruto’s win to go to the Supreme Court that will rule in 14 days.

Kenya’s electoral commission, just minutes before Monday’s declaration, found commissioners accusing each other of misconduct. The four members who objected to Monday’s declaration were appointed by Kenyatta last year.

The split shocked Kenyan citizens after an election widely seen as the country’s most transparent ever. The results of 46,000 polling stations were posted online for the public to follow along. One of the public tallies added up to a Ruto win with just over 50% of the votes.

Odinga has urged his supporters to remain calm in a country with a history of post-election violence.

The 55-year-old Ruto appealed to Kenyans by making the election about economic differences and not the ethnic ones that have long marked the country’s politics with sometimes deadly results.

Ruto made public comments that he will focus on domestic matters, not regional ones.

Ruto gained his apparent win by portraying himself as an outsider from humble beginnings who has defied the political dynasties of Kenyatta and Odinga, whose fathers were Kenya’s first president and vice president.

On the other hand, Odinga has pursued the presidency for a quarter-century. He is renowned as a fighter and was detained for years in the 1980s over his push for multiparty democracy. He was also a supporter of Kenya’s groundbreaking 2010 constitution.