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Kenya’s president-elect William Ruto on Monday pledged to extend “a hand of brotherhood” to his rivals after the Supreme Court upheld his victory in the August 9 presidential poll, following a legal battle with challenger Raila Odinga.
“I extend a hand of brotherhood to all my competitors and to all their supporters. We are not enemies, we are Kenyans,” Ruto said in a speech following the court decision.
The verdict capped a prolonged political process, including an election campaign dominated by mudslinging and fake news, with many observers fearing that the dispute over the result would boil over into violence.
But on Monday, Ruto struck a conciliatory tone, saying his government would work “to make Kenya a country for everyone.”
“Our election and judicial institutions have won,” he said.
As deputy president, Ruto was widely expected to succeed outgoing President Uhuru Kenyatta, but found himself exiled to the side-lines when his boss struck an alliance with former foe Odinga, endorsing him for the top job.
A businessman with a rags-to-riches background and a shadowy reputation, Ruto had styled himself as “hustler-in-chief” and champion of the downtrodden as Kenya grapples with an economic crisis.
Both Ruto and Odinga had vowed to respect the court’s ruling, with memories still raw of deadly violence that marred previous election disputes in East Africa’s most vibrant democracy.
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