Kenya’s Odinga rejects election results, will launch legal challenge

KENYA’s losing presidential candidate, Raila Odinga said on Tuesday his coalition totally rejects the election results that saw Deputy President William Ruto win the presidential vote, and vowed to pursue legal means to challenge the decision.

The veteran opposition leader, who lost his fifth bid for the presidency, urged his supporters to maintain peace and not take the law on their own hands, at a media briefing in the capital.

His first comments on the result came minutes after four of the seven election commissioners said they stood by their decision a day earlier to disown the result of the presidential poll, saying the final tallying process had been “opaque”.

“Our view is that the figures announced by (electoral commission chairman Wafula) Chebukati are null and void and must be quashed by court of law,” Odinga, who was making his fifth bid for the presidency, told a news conference.

He broadcast the dissenting commission members’ own news conference at his own venue before taking the stage.

Speaking for the group, electoral commission deputy chairperson Juliana Cherera said the results that gave current deputy president William Ruto a wafer-thin victory over Odinga were erroneously aggregated. She said the elections had been conducted in a proper manner.

Chebukati declared Ruto the winner on Monday with 50.49% of the vote against Odinga’s 48.5%. Minutes earlier, his deputy Cherera had told media at a separate location that she and three other commissioners disowned the results.

The dramatic events of Monday have raised fears of violence like that seen after past disputed polls.

In 2017, more than 100 people were killed after the Supreme Court overturned the result citing anomalies in the voting process. A decade earlier, more than 1 200 people were killed in widespread violence after the 2007 presidential vote.

With memories still fresh of post-election bloodshed in usually stable Kenya following elections in 2007 and 2017, Odinga has faced calls from home and abroad to commit to resolving any concerns over the election outcome in the courts.