William Ruto: from chicken seller to Kenya’s president-elect

The Deputy President of the Republic of Kenya, William Ruto was announced on Monday as the winner of  the 2022 presidential election in Kenya, after narrowly defeating his closest rival, Raila Odinga to become the fifth president of the republic of Kenya since Independence.

After six days of delay in the announcement of results due to an alleged vote-buying claim by Raila Odinga’s camp, Mr Ruto, who polled 50.49 percent of the total votes cast, was declared as the winner of the election by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC). Although some commissioners had rejected the results of the just concluded election.

Mr Ruto’s victory in the election means he will be taking over from the incumbent President,  Uhuru Kenyatta, who has served his two-term limit in office. Ruto, a 55-year-old rags-to-riches businessman, saw the election as a war between common “hustlers” and “dynasties” that had dominated Kenya since its independence from Britain in 1963.

In the 2013 presidential election, he was elected Deputy President alongside President Uhuru Kenyatta on the Jubilee Alliance platform. From 1998 to 2013, Ruto served as a Member of Parliament (MP). From August to December 2002, he was Minister of Home Affairs in the Daniel Arap Moi cabinet. He then served as Minister of Agriculture in the Mwai Kibaki cabinet from 2008 to 2010, and as Minister of Higher Education from April to October 2010.

Mr Ruto has promised a bottom-up approach to the economy, saying it will benefit the poor who are bearing the brunt of the cost of living crisis that has hit the world following the coronavirus pandemic and the war in Ukraine. The high cost of living consistently ranks as a priority concern for Kenyans, many of whom accuse the government of profligacy during the past decade. Ruto’s who spent his childhood selling chicken and groundnuts by the roadside in rural areas of the Rift Valley has managed to mobilise frustrated crowds regarding the high cost of living.

Image Credit: AP Photo/Ben Curtis