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Kenya is a democracy with free and fair elections, Deputy President William Ruto said Monday in an interview with AFP, confident that he will emerge victorious in the presidential poll on August 9.

Previous elections in the East African powerhouse have often seen accusations of vote-rigging but Ruto, known as a sharp strategist, insisted he would respect the outcome of the vote.

“I am very confident that I will win this election,” Ruto said in an interview at his Nairobi offices, where huge vehicles plastered with his face or the yellow and green colors of his party, the United Democratic Alliance, line the driveway.

“People of Kenya ultimately make their decisions. There is a wrong narrative that elections are manipulated… It is very difficult to steal an election,” the 55-year-old former MP and minister said.

At most, elections can be “influenced”, he conceded, but “we will stand (our ground) and still win against the so-called system”.

The ambitious politician was originally poised to succeed his boss, President Uhuru Kenyatta, as the ruling party’s candidate for the top job.

But a shock alliance between Kenyatta and his longtime rival Raila Odinga, who is now running against Ruto, has relegated the deputy president to the sidelines.

Recent elections have frequently been followed by violent clashes and allegations of rigging. The 2017 poll saw Odinga approach the Supreme Court, which annulled the result and ordered a re-run — a first for Africa.

The disputed 2007 vote was marked by an eruption of politically-motivated ethnic violence, leaving more than 1,100 people dead.

Kenyatta and Ruto were indicted by the International Criminal Court for their role in the 2007-2008 killings before the cases collapsed.

Both the leading candidates have vowed to accept next month’s result, with Odinga telling a press conference on Monday, “If we lose the elections fairly, we will accept the outcome and congratulate the winner.”

For his part, Ruto said he would willingly cooperate with his rival if Odinga were to win.

“We will have… to make sure Kenya remains a democracy and Kenya moves forward,” he said.

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