Raila Odinga addresses the press in Nairobi on Wednesday , announcing his change of mind about mounting a legal challenge to the result of the hotly contested presidential election / Photo: ENO

Kenyan opposition leader to challenge Kenyatta’s re-election in court

Leader of the Kenyan opposition Raila Odinga will take his claim that last week’s presidential election was rigged to the country’s Supreme Court.

Although foreign observers said the vote was free and fair, Odinga, who lost out to incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta, has accused the electoral authorities of fraud tantamount to “democracy’s slaughter”.

He said his party, the left wing National Super Alliance political coalition, had collected concrete evidence of massive irregularities that were allegedly used to rig the vote.

The official results gave Kenyatta about 54 per cent of the vote, and Odinga 45 per cent.

The international community called on Odinga to accept defeat after his claims sparked violent riots across the East African country, echoing the upheaval seen following a disputed election in 2007 which left 1,100 dead and 600,000 displaced.

It is hoped the legal challenge will help to reduce tensions.

Raila Odinga consoles the children of Chris Msando, the official at the Kenyan electoral commission responsible for the electronic voting system who was murdered days to the 8 August polls, in Nairobi. Disturbances following the election claimed 24 lives, according to the police. The opposition puts the figure much higher / Photo: ROF


Odinga said: “The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) might have declared Uhuru Kenyatta president, but a vast number of Kenyans have not accepted the legitimacy of the decision, and will not accept it until they have answers to profoundly disturbing questions that have been raised.”

European Union foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini and former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan led calls for Odinga to formalize his challenge in the courts. President Kenyatta has also urged his embittered rival to take the legal course. “We continue to appeal to those who are not satisfied to use the legal mechanism which has been created by our wonderful constitution,” he said.

But he insisted that his decision did not mean he was giving up the fight.

“We have now decided to move to the Supreme Court to lay before the world the making of a computer-generated leadership,” he told journalists.

“By going to court we aren’t legitimising misplaced calls from some observers for us to concede but are seeking to give to those who braved the long lines in the morning chill and hot afternoon… a chance to be heard.”

Adira Kallo

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