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William Ruto wins in Kenya's presidential election

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

In Kenya, the deputy president William Ruto has been declared the winner of the country's presidential election, very narrowly beating his opponent Raila Odinga - very narrowly, less than 2% of the vote. The announcement was delayed following chaotic scenes at the official count and allegations of vote rigging by the losing candidate's campaign. Well, NPR's Eyder Peralta is in Nairobi. He's been out seeing some of this chaos. Hey there.

EYDER PERALTA, BYLINE: Hey, Mary Louise.

KELLY: All right. So tell me what you saw - sounds like high drama today.

PERALTA: I honestly thought that there was no way Kenyan elections could surprise me. And they surprised...

KELLY: You were surprised.

PERALTA: ...Everyone today.

KELLY: OK.

PERALTA: Oh, I mean, everyone is. The electoral commission here said that they would announce the results of the presidential election after six days of counting in the afternoon. And we waited and waited. And suddenly four of the seven electoral commissioners left the main tallying center, and they held a press conference. They said that the election count was, quote, "opaque," and they could not stand by the result that was just about to be announced. At the same time, the elections chief here went ahead with the announcement, and almost as soon as he got onstage, he was attacked by a senator. And a big fight ensued. Two electoral commissioners...

KELLY: Like an actual fight, like a physical fight.

PERALTA: An actual fight.

KELLY: OK.

PERALTA: People hitting each other with chairs. Two electoral commissioners ended up in the hospital. But the announcement went on, and Kenya now has a president-elect, William Ruto.

KELLY: But now I'm surprised and a little confused because just a week ago, the reports were that this was going to be the most transparent election in the history of Kenya. What happened?

PERALTA: Yeah. I mean, look. Elections experts were saying that this was unriggable (ph) because just hours after the vote ended, the electoral commission put out raw results from 46,000 polling stations, which means anyone with the capacity could just do the math and get to who the winner in this election was. But just as quickly, both of the main campaigns in this election started throwing out allegations of rigging. And, you know, one electoral expert I spoke to said that elections in a place with a nascent democracy, with fragile institutions, just cannot survive a full-frontal attack from its politicians.

KELLY: Well, in terms of where this goes next, Raila Odinga, who has been named the loser - how is he responding? Is he going to contest this? Does he have grounds to contest it?

PERALTA: This is the fifth time Raila Odinga loses elections, and he has not said whether or not he will seek a remedy in the country's constitutional court. He has seven days to decide.

KELLY: So what's it feel like there? You've been driving around Nairobi. What's the mood?

PERALTA: In some places, there is celebration. Remember; this is a bitterly divided country - 50-50, basically. And so there's celebration in some places but also violent protests in others. Earlier today in Kibera, which is a big stronghold for Raila Odinga, protesters set fire, and they started destroying shops. When we tried to approach, they started throwing stones. At us, at everyone, the anger was just palpable. We spoke to a man called Jared Ocheing (ph) while that was happening. Let's listen.

JARED OCHEING: We are angry, very angry. This is what - this is not what we expected. It was a smooth vote. People costed us vote smoothly (ph). The outcome is serious. Now, what can help Kenya? We should go for another election.

KELLY: Another election.

PERALTA: Another election is what they're asking for. It's really difficult to know where we are here in Kenya. We'll see.

KELLY: Well, Eyder Peralta, thank you for telling us what you are seeing and hearing on the ground today in Nairobi.

PERALTA: Thank you, Mary Louise. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.
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