Kenyan President-elect William Ruto says he “will engage” with any potential court challenges to the election results, as the East African country awaits an expected petition from losing candidate Raila Odinga.
Ruto, the country’s deputy president, spoke to journalists on Wednesday after meeting with members of his political alliance.
He declared that his administration “will have nothing to do with the blackmail we have seen, the threats we have seen, the fear sown around the country” amid differing political views. “We are having our democratic country back,” he said.
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.”
Ruto asserted he was forging ahead with creating an administration, promising that no Kenyan would be excluded, whatever their political or ethnic affiliation.
He also promised that public servants will be professional and would be under no pressure to carry out political work for any party.
“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 said.
Ruto, Kenya’s deputy president, was declared the winner of last week’s close election on Monday, but the electoral commission publicly split minutes before the declaration.
Four of the seven commissioners, who were appointed last year by President Uhuru Kenyatta, asserted that the commission chair excluded them from the final steps before his declaration.
Odinga, an opposition figure in his fifth attempt at the presidency, has said his campaign will pursue “all constitutional and legal options” to challenge the election results. He met his team behind closed doors on Wednesday. They have seven days from Monday’s declaration to file at the Supreme Court, which then has 14 days to rule on it.
It is not clear on what grounds Odinga would challenge the results in an election widely described by Kenyans and observers as more transparent and peaceful than ever. He has urged his often passionate supporters to remain calm.
“Ours is victory deferred, but it’s coming home,” Odinga’s running mate, Martha Karua, told journalists on Wednesday. “We’ll not let you down.”
In a political twist, Kenyatta backed his longtime rival Odinga in this election after falling out with his deputy, Ruto, years ago. Kenyatta has not spoken publicly since he cast his vote last Tuesday.