Kenya 2022 elections: What is next for president-elect William Ruto?

By Son Gatitu

Posted on Thursday, 18 August 2022 22:04, updated on Friday, 19 August 2022 09:30
Kenya's President-elect William Ruto prepares to address the media at his official residence of the deputy president in the Karen area of Nairobi, Kenya Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2022. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy)

Kenya’s president-elect William Ruto is counting down the days before he is bestowed the responsibility of steering the East African country for the next five years. Ruto served as deputy president since April 2013, so this will not be unfamiliar territory. But, his big day may however have to wait, should his main rival, Raila Odinga, make good on his promise to challenge Ruto’s 9 August election win in court.

According to the Kenyan constitution, Ruto should be sworn in to office on 30 August, which is the first Tuesday “following the fourteenth day after the date of the declaration [15 August] of the result of the presidential election,” the constitution provides. But this can only take place if there is no petition contesting the outcome of the presidential election at the supreme court.

The constitution of Kenya requires a person contesting the outcome of presidential election to file a petition at the supreme court within seven days of the announcement of the results. This means if Odinga makes good his statement, he must file a petition by 22 August.

Once such a petition has been filed, it would put on hold plans to swear in Ruto.

Legal contest

Should a petition be received by 22 August, the supreme court is required in law to within fourteen days, “hear and determine the petition and its decision shall be final.” This means the supreme court will have two weeks to peruse filings of the petitioner and the responses of the electoral commission, the president-elect and any other listed party. The court must then hold a public hearing of the matter and be ready with a decision by 5 September.

There are two possibilities in law. One, the supreme court may uphold Ruto’s election. If it does, then Ruto would be sworn in as the fifth president of Kenya on 13 September, being the first Tuesday after “the seventh day following the date on which the court renders a decision declaring the election to be valid,” the constitution provides.

Secondly, should the court agree with the petitioner – Odinga or anyone else who wants to challenge the vote – and “determines the election of the president-elect to be invalid, a fresh election shall be held within sixty days after the determination,” the constitution reads.

Given that a ruling must be made by 5 September, a repeat election would have to be held by 4 November.

Taking office

In the meantime, a committee of nearly 20 government bureaucrats has been meeting to plan for Ruto becoming president. The committee is led by head of public service Joseph Kinyua, who serves in President Uhuru Kenyatta’s cabinet as its secretary.

Kenyan law requires the committee include the following officials:

  • Attorney general Paul Kihara,
  • Interior minister Fred Matiang’i,
  • Principal secretary in charge of interior Karanja Kibicho,
  • Principal secretary in charge of the national treasury Julius Muia,
  • Principal secretary in charge of foreign affairs Macharia Kamau,
  • Principal secretary in charge of information and communication technologies Jerome Ochieng,
  • And other principal secretaries who serve as the accounting officers of their respective ministries.

The country’s chief of defence forces Robert Kibochi leads the security sector on the committee. It also includes inspector general of police Hillary Mutyambai, director general of the National Intelligence Service Philip Kameru, statehouse comptroller Kinuthia Mbugua and the clerks of the two houses of parliament.

The chief registrar of the judiciary, Anne Amadi, is also part of the transition team, with her role specific to administering the oath of office to the president-elect and the deputy president-elect.

“Shortly we will be suggesting members of the Kenya Kwanza team to the transition committee so that that process is concluded,” Ruto said on 17 August. The law allows inclusion of three representatives of the president-elect on the team.

The transition

The Assumption of the Office of President Committee is mandated to facilitate the transition of power from President Kenyatta to the new president. The committee is required to organise security for the president-elect and the deputy president-elect, provide him with the necessary facilities and personnel during the transition and coordinate briefings for the president-elect by relevant public officials.

In the run-up to the general election, Ruto had claimed that Kenyatta had cut him from security briefings, even though by law he is a member of the national security committee as deputy president. “Until three years ago, the President excluded me from attending the national security council because I asked tough questions about schemes of murder and [other] things…” Ruto said in a media interview on 7 July.

The government is expected to declare inauguration day a public holiday. The president-elect and his deputy shall be sworn in, in the presence of the chief justice, at a public place “not earlier than 10.00am and not later than 2.00pm,” the law provides. Both the chief justice and the president-elect shall sign a certificate of inauguration, paving the way for the handing over of instruments of power.

Sword and laws

Outgoing President Kenyatta is required in law to hand over a sword and the constitution as the instruments of power and authority of the president. After the president-elect, the deputy president-elect is required to be sworn in before the new president delivers his inauguration speech.

On the evening Ruto was declared president-elect, he disclosed that he was yet to speak to Kenyatta. “I haven’t talked to Uhuru Kenyatta, our outgoing president, but I am sure there will be a conversation because now I am the president-elect and there has to be a transition,” he said.

In preparation for holding office, Ruto is also engaging in talks with his allies in the Kenya Kwanza alliance – including Amani National Congress party leader Musalia Mudavadi and Ford Kenya boss Moses Wetangula – about appointments for key ministerial posts.

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