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

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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 the 9th August election.

Ruto was declared president-elect on Monday by Kenya’s election commission chairperson 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.

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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.”

President Uhuru Kenyatta’s successor will have to quickly address an economic crisis that has left Kenyans struggling with soaring prices and rising unemployment.

His ability to do so will be hampered by debt built up to finance development through Kenyatta’s 10 years in office, during which economic output doubled.

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.

Odinga, a veteran presidential candidate who was making his fifth stab at the office, 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.