Kenya’s Odinga mounts court challenge to presidential poll result

6. Kenya
Kenya’s defeated presidential candidate Raila Odinga speaks to supporters in Nairobi on August 22, 2022. (Photo: AFP)

NAIROBI  — Kenya’s defeated presidential candidate Raila Odinga filed a petition to the country’s top court Monday, challenging the outcome of the August 9 election in what he called a fight for “de-mocracy and good governance”.اضافة اعلان

Odinga, a veteran opposition leader who ran with the backing of Presi-dent Uhuru Kenyatta and the ruling party, has rejected the outcome of the poll that delivered victory to his rival William Ruto, branding it a “travesty”.

The 77-year-old politician lost his fifth bid for the presidency by a nar-row margin of around 230,000 votes — less than two percentage points.

Hundreds of supporters cheered as dozens of boxes of evidence were unloaded from a truck outside the Supreme Court.

“We have enough evidence that it is us who won the election. We didn’t have an election we can be proud of,” Odinga told a press conference af-ter filing the case.

“The action we have taken ... affirms our deep belief in constitutionalism, the rule of law and a peaceful resolution of disputes.”

Although polling day passed off peacefully, the announcement of the re-sults a week ago sparked angry protests in some Odinga strongholds and there are fears a drawn-out dispute may lead to violence in a country with a history of post-poll unrest.

Since 2002, no presidential election in Kenya has gone uncontested, with this year’s outcome also causing a rift within the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) which oversaw the poll.

According to a copy of the 72-page petition seen by AFP, Odinga’s team alleges that IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati failed to tally around 140,000 votes.

As a result, Ruto “did not meet the constitutional threshold of 50 percent plus 1 of the valid votes cast” — a requirement for him to be declared the winner.

Judges now have 14 days to issue a ruling. If they order an annulment, a new vote must be held within 60 days.

The IEBC was under heavy pressure to deliver a clean vote after facing sharp criticism over its handling of the August 2017 election, which was also challenged by Odinga.

The court annulled that election in a first for Africa and ordered a re-run which was boycotted by Odinga. Dozens of people died during a police crackdown on protests.

In a shock development shortly before the results of this year’s poll were announced, four of the IEBC’s seven commissioners accused chairman Chebukati of running an “opaque” operation and later said the numbers did not add up.

Chebukati dismissed the claims, insisting he had carried out his duties according to the law of the land despite “intimidation and harassment”.

If the Supreme Court upholds the results, Ruto will become Kenya’s fifth president since independence from Britain in 1963, taking the reins of a country battling inflation, high unemployment, and a crippling drought.

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