Name? William Ruto
Westphalian identity? Kenyan
Why is he in the news? Today William Ruto was sworn in as the fifth president of Kenya, beating his opponent, Raila Odinga, who was backed by former president Kenyatta. Ruto’s victory came after Odinga had claimed that Ruto cheated, prompting him to challenge the results in the Supreme Court. However, since the Court rejected Odgina’s claims, he has since come to terms with the election’s result.
Why do we care? Ruto’s election comes at a time of crucial East African affairs, with the warming relations between Rwandan president Paul Kagame and DRC president Felix Tshisekedi and a resurgence in the Tigray conflict in Ethiopia. Though with Ruto coming in to fill Kenya’s traditional role as the region’s peacemaker, he will definitely take the similar position as a peacemaker as Kenyatta, as the former president will be working as Ruto’s chair for the region’s ‘peace initiatives’.
Why should you care? Ruto takes power while the state of Kenya is fragile. Right now, East Africa is experiencing a drought that is pushing much of the region’s population to starvation, on top of rising fuel and fertiliser prices. As he takes office, he promises to alleviate the drought’s effects on Kenyan food supply as well as reform the national economy to focus on a bottom-up approach. Ruto’s election should make you care 6/10 on if he is able to help the country’s most vulnerable.
Who else cares? Rwandan president Paul Kagame is bound to care about the inauguration of Ruto as he recently met with him. Both leaders expressed their willingness to deepen mutual security and economic cooperation. Kagame also attended Ruto’s inauguration.
Any further comments? Ruto’s slim victory (with a margin of 1.7 points) was one of the most anticipated recent elections in Africa. However, after contesting the traditional Kenyan Odinga and Kenyatta dynasties, Ruto’s victory speaks to the “average citizen” after branding himself as a political outsider.