Chairs thrown as scuffles break out at Kenya election count centre

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William Ruto has been declared the winner of Kenya’s presidential election – moments after the main count was interrupted as scuffles broke out.

Mr Ruto is currently the country’s deputy president and has beaten opposition leader Raila Odinga to the top job after winning 50.49% of the vote.

“We are here this evening to witness this momentous occasion as the people of Kenya restate what is in article one of the constitution of Kenya that all sovereign power belongs to the people of Kenya,” Mr Ruto said after his victory was announced.

“I want to thank God for getting us to this point, I want to thank God that today we have concluded this election.

“There were predictions that we wouldn’t get here, but because there is a God in heaven we are here, and I want to in a very special way to say, and to confess, that without God we wouldn’t have been here.”

It is a triumph for Mr Ruto who shook up politics by appealing to struggling Kenyans on economic terms and not on traditional ethnic ones.

Despite being sidelined by the president, he had told voters that the election was between “hustlers” like him from modest backgrounds and the “dynasties” of outgoing president Uhuru Kenyatta and Mr Odinga, whose fathers were Kenya’s first president and vice president.

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Mr Odinga has sought the presidency for a quarter of a century.

In his acceptance speech, Mr Ruto also thanked Mr Odinga and emphasised an election that focused on issues and not ethnic divisions, saying that “gratitude goes to millions of Kenyans who refused to be boxed into tribal cocoons”.

Kenya's Deputy President William Ruto and presidential candidate for the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) and Kenya Kwanza political coalition reacts after being declared the winner of Kenya's presidential election at the IEBC National Tallying Centre at the Bomas of Kenya, in Nairobi, Kenya August 15, 2022. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya
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William Ruto has been declared the winner of Kenya’s presidential election

Earlier, chairs were thrown, bottles were smashed and a lectern was knocked over as chaos erupted in the main counting hall in Nairobi.

Diplomats and international observers were whisked out as supporters of Mr Ruto and Mr Odinga clashed with police.

The announcement of the election results descended into chaotic scenes after the deputy chairperson of the election commission, Julian Cherera, and three other commissioners disowned the results.

“We are not able to take ownership of the results that will be announced,” Ms Cherera told reporters before Mr Ruto’s victory was revealed.

Amid fears that vote-rigging allegations could lead to outbreaks of violence, Ms Cherera also urged the parties to pursue any disputes through the courts.

The sudden split in the commission came minutes after Mr Odinga’s chief agent said they could not verify the results and made allegations of “electoral offences” without giving details or evidence.

Sky News’ correspondent Yousra Ekhagir witnessed the disruption take place.

“Fighting broke out when members of former prime minister and frontrunner Raila Odinga’s party flipped a table and starting flipping over chairs and contesting the results of the election,” she said.

“Now, his opponent and current deputy president William Ruto has arrived, and an eerie calm has come over the centre.

“People are clapping now, they have just welcomed him in, but it’s very strange, and it’s very awkward to feel that people are acting like what just happened didn’t happen.”

Two commissioners and the chief executive of the commission were injured in the scuffles and are receiving treatment.

People had been waiting at the centre for hours following several delays to the election result being announced.

The building was packed with party officials, who were being entertained by musicians calling for calm.

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