CW 33/2022: Change of personnel in sight
Press Review 12 August 2022 to 19 August 2022

William Ruto elected President of Kenya

On Monday, William Ruto was declared the winner of Kenya’s presidential election and thus Kenya’s new head of state. Six days after the election was held (press review week 32/2022), the Kenyan Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) announced the official results, according to which the current Vice President defeated his opponent Raila Odinga by a very narrow margin of 50.49% to 48.85% in the first round of voting. Before the results were announced, four of the seven election commissioners said they would reject the result of the election, citing an opaque counting process. The head of the electoral commission, Wafula Chebukati, nevertheless announced the official result by virtue of his office after hours of delay and spoke of attempted intimidation and threats to his commission. After the political camp around Raila Odinga also rejected the election result even before it was announced, the veteran politician said on Tuesday that he would take all legal steps at his disposal. While another constitutional challenge against the result of the presidential election is in the offing, as in past elections, the Electoral Commission is taking its dispute to the public. Thus, the two women election commissioners and two men election commissioners who reject the result have made public their specific allegations, which include turnout inflation and mathematical errors in the counting of the results. Given that Ruto was able to avoid a run-off thanks to 69,000 votes, these errors are said to be crucial to a wrong election result, according to the deputy head of the electoral commission Juliana Cherera. Chebukati, meanwhile, accuses the four renegade electoral commissioners of trying to falsify the result immediately before it was announced and of trying to bring about a run-off. While the media debate is divided as to whether a possible constitutional challenge, which would have to be filed by next Monday, could succeed, the situation remains calm with regard to possible political violence compared to past elections, with the exception of brief tumults in the course of the announcement of the results. According to experts, the relatively low voter turnout of 65.4% already indicated a certain voter apathy, which is rooted in the country’s major economic problems (press review week 32/2022). Against this background, initial reactions of the population seem to indicate that they expect quick solutions to these problems and would have little understanding for possible protracted power games within the political elite.

Tensions between Germany and Mali

On Thursday, after weeks of blockade by the Malian military government, a German troop transport flew into the West African country for the first time again. However, the 93 soldiers, most of whom are to be deployed in the UN mission MINUSMA, had to leave for Bamako in a civilian aircraft after the military junta had not granted overflight permission for a military transport. Since mid-July, the German contingent of MINUSMA has been waiting for this planned change of rotation personnel. At the end of last week, a planned flight was still prohibited despite assurances from the Malian Minister of Defence Sadio Camara to the contrary, whereupon the German government suspended the operational work of the Bundeswehr – operations of the reconnaissance forces and flights of transport helicopters – within the framework of MINUSMA last Friday for the time being. The German Minister of Defence, Christine Lambrecht, had justified this step with the fact that the security of the German soldiers was not guaranteed and had top priority. Despite increasing restrictions on the MINUSMA mission by the Malian government, including the latest scandal, a complete withdrawal of the German contingent is not in sight. However, reported sightings of suspected Russian security forces at Gao airport, where the German Armed Forces are also stationed, are causing further irritation between Germany and Mali – the German government has demanded clarification from the Malian government. Mali’s increased cooperation with Russia had already played a role in France’s decision to withdraw its troops in February. On Monday, the last French troops deployed in the anti-terrorism operation Barkhane left the West African country. However, the dispute between the former partners is not over, on the contrary: Bamako accused Paris of spying and military support for jihadist groups in a letter to the United Nations also on Monday. France denied the accusations.

In other news

Zambian TV and radio presenter Dingindaba Jonah Buyoya is the winner of the 2022 Komla Dumor Prize, making him the youngest winner of this award from the British broadcaster BBC at the age of 25. As part of the award, the presenter and reporter from Zambian TV station Diamond Television will spend three months working with the BBC News team in London, gaining insight into the British broadcaster’s television, radio and online services. The jury praised this year’s winner for his reporting style, charisma and passion for sharing stories about the African continent through digital platforms. For Buyoya, the award, named after his great role model, the late BBC World News journalist Komla Dumor, is a very special honor. Launched in 2015, the award has since been presented annually to outstanding individuals in Africa who demonstrate excellent journalistic skills in front of and behind the camera, continuing the legacy of Ghana’s star journalist.

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