“The figures announced by Mr. Los Chebukati are null and void and must be crushed by a court of law,” Odinga told a news conference. “I want to congratulate our supporters for staying calm and keeping the peace and urge you to continue doing so. Let no one take justice into their own hands.”
“We are following constitutional and legal channels and processes to invalidate Mr. Chebukati’s illegal and unconstitutional ruling,” he added.
His statement raises the specter of violence between his supporters and those of the winner, which has marred past elections. So far, aside from scattered protests, Kenya has been quiet after the results.
“It is a relief that Raila decided to go to court and asked her supporters to remain calm and wait for the courts to decide,” said Meron Elias, Eastern and Southern Africa analyst at the International Crisis Group think tank. “Despite the uncertainty, it is a reassuring decision.”
Odinga’s announcement could bring a repeat of the 2017 Kenyan election result when his campaign challenged incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta’s victory in the Supreme Court, which later declared that vote invalid.
However, Kenyatta won the re-election after Odinga told his supporters not to vote, citing mistrust in the electoral body. That period was marred by violent street protests and human rights violations.
On Monday afternoon, as the country awaited the election results, one of Odinga’s top election officials, Saitabao Ole Kanchory, said they had reports that the electoral system had been “penetrated and hacked” and that “some of the IEBC officials committed electoral offences. ”
Minutes before the results were announced, four of Kenya’s seven electoral commissioners said they would not endorse them. At a news conference Tuesday, they said the results were declared by the president before all commissioners had a chance to consult on the tabulations and objections filed by the parties.
“The problem we have is with the process,” Commissioner Justus Nyang’aya said shortly before Odinga’s news conference. “If that is not determined by the commissioners, then it remains the duty, role and responsibility of one person in the boardroom.”
Monday’s announcement of Ruto’s victory sparked celebrations across the country from his supporters. In Ngong Town, on the outskirts of Nairobi, drivers honked their horns and formed processions in the street as they celebrated. Meanwhile, in Ruto’s hometown of Sugoi, people celebrated late.
In the western Kenyan city of Kisumu, an Odinga support base, protesters briefly set tires on fire in the street and blocked roads with stones before police dispersed them.
This is expected to be Odinga’s last bid for the presidency. It was the 77-year-old’s fifth attempt at the top spot.
The country’s most serious spate of electoral violence came with Odinga’s defeat by Mwai Kibaki in 2007 by a narrow margin, also amid allegations of electoral fraud. The post-election violence left more than 1,000 dead and more than 5,000 displaced.
In Kibera, a Nairobi slum considered an Odinga stronghold, crowds that had gathered in previous days to watch live broadcasts before the results had dispersed. “The announcement was disappointing; what Odinga says is what we will do, he is our leader. We trust his judgment for the way forward,” said Job Owino, a supporter.
Mercy Wanjiru, 30, a resident of Mathare who was displaced during the 2007 post-election violence, said she was pleased with Ruto’s victory and hoped that Odinga would relent to prevent a repeat of the violence.
“We have a country to build,” he said. “Now is the time to heal and move on.”
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