The aftermath of elections in Kenya have been calmer than previous years. Even though the defeated presidential candidate has rejected the results, citizens are simply keen to get on with their lives.
Election officials on Monday declared William Ruto the winner of Kenya’s presidential election. His rival Raila Odinga, has rejected the results and expressed his intention to launch a court challenge.
Many analysts now anticipate that Odinga will file a petition in the Supreme Court the only viable option left to him.
William Ruto’s supporters are meanwhile still celebrating and protests in Odinga’s opposition strongholds such as Kibera and Mathare in the capital, Nairobi, are largely peaceful.
Voters cast their ballots on August 9 and the nation waited anxiously for several days to hear who the new president would be.
“It is important to get back to normalcy. The economy is threatened post-pandemic, we need to recover,” Zaida Mwajuma, a resident of Kisumu, said. She told DW that she wants to go back to doing what she loves best including schooling. “We cannot allow politicians to hold us hostage.”
Denis Mogaka supported Raila Odinga in the elections. Mogaka said the outcome of the vote has left him feeling devastated and depressed. “These have been very tough moments for us and in many years during elections, our people haven’t taken things lightly,” he said. “Right now I feel that we should get back to our normal daily activities because our children need to go to school, our children need to eat.”
Traders back to doing business
Shops have opened in many parts of Kenya as traders resume business. In the Kamukunji wholesale market area of Nairobi, an opposition stronghold, shoe seller Dorcas Cheruiyot conceded that she has been struggling to come to terms with Odinga’s defeat.
But Cheruiyot is happy that things are returning to normal in her community. “Despite having such a tough election, I am amazed that everything in Nairobi is back to normal,” she told DW.
Kenya has in the past experienced chaotic and deadly post-election periods. Claims of a stolen election sparked violence during the 2007 vote, leading to the killing of at least 1,200 people and displacement of 600,000 more.
Cheruiyot observed in a DW interview: “This is the first time that we are experiencing such calm after elections… I have accepted [Odinga’s defeat] and I am glad that we can move forward as a country and focus on building the economy so everything is calm, people are back to business, and we are happy that there has been no violence so far.”
Another Kenyan told DW he was impressed with the peaceful atmosphere prevailing in the country despite the mixed feelings among voters. “We have had the best peaceful elections than before, since most of the things are running normal, like when it comes to business it is running, other stuffs are still running, people are calm, just being united and on their own, I can really thank God for that,” he said.
The trader Cheruiyot is glad to get back to selling her products at Nairobi’s Kamukunji market. “Here in Kenya we are so happy that everything went well, the elections, we thank God that there is peace and people have gone back to their businesses, and there is so much calmness, like you can’t know that there was elections a few days ago”.
It is not only Odinda’s supporters who are moving on despite the defeat. Cheerful Ruto supporters are being measured in their celebrations.
One Kisumu resident told DW he is “glad there has been peace, calmness”. Businesses, he said, appear to be operating as usual and there is no sign of tensions. “The atmosphere generally has been positive.,” he said.
Tough economic decisions
Before this year’s general elections, Kenya had been facing economic hardships due to domestic and international triggers.
The new president has a major task ahead as he will be inheriting an economy expected to slow to 5.1% growth, from 7.5% in 2021, according to some economists. Inflation has surged in recent months with 7.9% recorded in June, which was fueled by price increases for food staples, fertilizer, and fuel stemmed from the country’s worst drought in four decades and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Kenyans are hoping for some relief now that the elections are over. Economist Ken Gichinga told DW that, as Kenya’s new president, William Ruto will be expected to deal with the effects of first-round inflation.
“I think it’d be very important for him to come up with a strong team. We have already seen the first-round effects, this is on goods and services. Now we expect to see the second effects. This will be on wages. So, we might see a clamor for higher salaries amongst doctors, amongst teachers,” Gichinga told DW.
Going into the election Ruto had campaigned on what he called a “bottom-up economic model” that will channel government funds into sectors that have the potential to generate the most jobs.
He had pledged to invest in farming, which employs more than 40% of the labor force, and in small businesses.
Gichinga said key among actions that must a review of fuel subsidies that will come to an end in October. “Out of IMF requirements, you know, how will they counter that, but also roll out some of their key priorities in the manifestos. So how do they merge that? I think it’s going to be a very, very busy, fast 100 days,” the economist predicted.