Ruto won with 50.49% of the vote, narrowly beating veteran opposition leader and former prime minister Raila Odinga, who was contesting his fifth election.
He will be Kenya’s fifth president since independence, winning the seat on his first attempt. Ruto’s party, the Kenya First coalition, has secured a majority of seats in the Kenyan Senate, the second highest in the National Assembly.
Speaking on Monday, Ruto said: “It was God who brought us here … my team and I will ensure that the sacrifices made by many Kenyans are not in vain … we will not disappoint them. I have all confidence that this country will come together and that we can move forward as one democratic nation.”
“I will lead a transparent, open, democratic government and I will work with the opposition to the extent that it oversees my government,” he added.
Chaos over results
Earlier Monday, his rival Odinga’s coalition rejected the election results before they were announced by the Kenyan Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).
Odinga’s chief agent Saitabao Kanchory told the press outside the National Election Center in Nairobi that they had not yet been able to verify the final result with their own count.
Shortly after Odinga’s coalition rejected the results, the national counting center briefly fell into chaos, with fighting erupting and chairs being thrown into the building.
The country’s electoral commission was split as four officials rejected the results of commission chairman Wafula Chebukati, officials said at an earlier news conference.
IEBC Vice-President Juliana Cherera was among those who contested the results but provided no evidence of irregularities.
But Ruto’s populist “man-of-the-people” approach, which rejected political dynasties and capitalized on the anti-elite sentiment in the country, endeared him to voters.
He managed to transcend Kenya’s traditionally dynastic politics and defeated Odinga, the son of Kenya’s first vice president.
During the campaign, Ruto described himself as the “Chief Chief,” citing his humble beginnings as a chicken seller fighting his way to the top of Kenyan politics.
Political analyst Herman Manyora told CNN ahead of the election that “Ruto has excited the youth…almost in a euphoric sense.”
Ruto, a former teacher with a doctorate in plant ecology from the University of Nairobi, has pledged to prioritize Kenya’s economy and “elevate ordinary citizens” as president.
He will face pressure to provide solutions to Kenya’s pressing economic problems, including growing debt, high food and fuel prices and massive youth unemployment.
Ruto has a long and varied history in Kenyan politics and was also tried along with President Kenyatta in 2013 before the International Criminal Court in the Netherlands for alleged crimes against humanity following deadly violence in the 2007 elections. However, the charges were later dropped.