Former Kenyan PM Raila Odinga, who lost the August 9 presidential elections by a tiny margin, rejected the outcome of the vote and vowed to take constitutional steps to challenge it.
Fifth attempt ends in failure
Odinga, 77, who was making his fifth run at the presidency and secured 48.9% of the vote to deputy president William Ruto’s 50.5%, said the head of the electoral commission didn’t follow due process, rendering the results declared “null and void”.
The dispute and delay in the swearing-in of the new president poses a risk to political stability in East Africa’s largest economy, where previous controversial votes were marred by violence.
While a number of Odinga’s supporters took to the streets of Nairobi, the capital, late Monday and set tyres alight, the situation was largely calm on Tuesday and there haven’t been any reports of clashes between the two rivals’ backers.
Odinga’s statement came moments after four of the nation’s seven electoral commissioners held a separate briefing and said they didn’t accept the outcome, citing a lack of transparency over the process. It was the second statement the officials released after the result.
Observers’ votes tally
Earlier on Tuesday, the Election Observer Group, which comprises 5,000 local monitors from civil rights and religious organisations, said the official count from the Independent and Electoral Boundaries Commission was consistent with its parallel tally, and the constitution gave the body’s chairperson Wafula Chebukati the right to declare the results.
Ruto, 55, said the IEBC had “bent over backward to accommodate everybody”, the election results spoke for themselves and their validity was being questioned by those who didn’t want to accept that they had lost.
“The people of Kenya have spoken and we need to respect what they have said,” he told reporters in Nairobi after he was declared the president-elect.
The yield on Kenya’s 2032 Eurobonds dropped by 59 basis points to 11.98% by 4pm in the capital, Nairobi, after surging on Monday.
Odinga successfully petitioned the Supreme Court to annul the 2017 election but didn’t participate in the subsequent re-run, which was won by incumbent president Uhuru Kenyatta, because he said the conditions weren’t in place for a credible contest.
Odinga’s upper hand in Parliament
Ruto’s administration may battle to pass legislation if Odinga manages to cobble most seats in the National Assembly. Odinga’s coalition had secured 162 seats and Ruto’s 159, with four contests to go, according to the Daily Nation newspaper. Ruto’s alliance won the Senate, parliament’s other chamber, by a single seat.
The US embassy in Nairobi congratulated Kenyans for peacefully exercising their right to vote and urged all parties to work together to resolve any remaining concerns through the existing dispute-resolution mechanisms.
UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres’s office said it noted the results and that it encouraged all candidates to abide by their commitment to recognise the outcome and resort to legal channels to address any challenges.
Ethiopian PM Abiy Ahmed, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari and SA President Cyril Ramaphosa were among foreign leaders who congratulated Ruto on his victory.
Odinga’s secret strategy
In rejecting the results, Odinga claimed the commissioner’s chairperson acted against the law in declaring Ruto the winner.
“What we saw yesterday was a travesty and a blatant disregard of the Constitution and the laws of Kenya by Mr Chebukati and a minority of IEBC Commissioners.
“The law is clear on the role of the Chairperson of the IEBC. The law does not vest in the Chairperson the powers of a dictator to rule the IEBC unilaterally. The law on the IEBC provides that: Unless a unanimous decision is reached, a decision on any matter before the commission shall be by a majority of the members present and voting.
“The IEBC is structured as a democratic institution in which decisions must be taken either by consensus or by a vote of the majority.
“The Chairperson and a tiny minority of commissioners have no legal authority to take weighty decisions and proclaim them as the rulings of the IEBC,” said Odinga.
While indicating he will pursue legal and constitutional remedies, Odinga would not reveal much.
“Today I do not want to fully address our strategies going forward but suffice it to note that we will be pursuing all constitutional and legal options available to us.
“We will do so because we regard the many flaws in the elections and the wrongs committed by IEBC as fatal to the process and the outcome announced by Mr Chebukati.
“We urge Kenyans and the friends and partners of Kenya abroad to stand tall and be counted as we seek to advance the ideals of democracy and an open society that we have always stood for.”