- Odinga urges his followers to remain peaceful
- Calm returns to the streets of Kibera slum and Kisumu town
- The election result disavowed by the majority of electoral officials
NAIROBI/KISUMU, Aug 16 (Reuters) – Kenyan politician Raila Odinga has called the August 9 presidential election result he lost to Vice President William Ruto a “travesty” and warned Tuesday against a long legal crisis facing Kenyan democracy.
His first comments on the result came after four of the seven election commissioners said they stood by their decision a day earlier to disown the figures announced by election commission chairman Wafula Chebukati.
The dramatic series of events has raised fears of violence similar to those that followed disputed polls in East Africa’s wealthiest country in 2007, when more than 1,200 people were killed and again in 2017 , when more than 100 people died.
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Overnight, Odinga supporters battled police and burned tires in the western town of Kisumu and the sprawling slum of Kibera, the capital Nairobi, but calm had returned to the streets by Tuesday morning.
“Our view is that the figures announced by Chebukati are null and void and should be overturned by a court,” said Odinga, a veteran opposition and five-time presidential candidate, this time backed by the president. outgoing Uhuru Kenyatta.
“What we saw yesterday was a travesty,” he told reporters, but called on his supporters to remain peaceful. “Let no one take the law into his own hands,” he said.
Odinga broadcast the dissident commission members’ press conference in his own room before going on stage. He said he was not yet ready to announce specific legal measures.
Odinga has until next Monday to file an appeal with the Supreme Court.
Speaking on behalf of the four commissioners, Electoral Commission Vice-Chair Juliana Cherera said the results showing Ruto won with 50.49% were mistakenly aggregated and Chebukati ignored concerns about the tally raised by other Commissioners.
Cherera later said that one of his main claims was based on a mathematical error. She initially pointed out that the vote percentages for the four candidates in the race amounted to 100.01%, saying the additional 0.01% amounted to 142,000 votes, enough to potentially sway the election.
Ruto beat Odinga by around 233,000 votes.
Responding to a query from Reuters, Cherera later acknowledged that 0.01% of the 14.2 million votes cast were in fact 1,420, but said the tally still showed a lack of data quality control.
Reuters could not reach the election commission spokesman for comment.
With memories still fresh of the post-election bloodshed, Odinga faced calls from home and abroad to pledge to resolve any issues in court.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres spoke with Ruto on Tuesday and hopes to speak with Odinga on Wednesday, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said, adding that Guterres hopes the electoral process will go smoothly. would take place in accordance with the law.
US State Department spokesman Ned Price urged parties to work together to “peacefully resolve any remaining concerns about the election” through existing dispute resolution mechanisms and called on party leaders politicians to urge supporters to remain peaceful.
“We hope calm and patience will prevail,” Price told reporters, adding that Washington will continue to be in close contact with its Kenyan partners.
At a crowded restaurant in Odinga’s stronghold in Kisumu, sporadic applause rang out as supporters watched his statement rejecting the results and calling for peace. Outside, the streets were quiet.
“There’s no need to protest because we have proof that Ruto rigged this thing,” said Justin Omondi, a businessman and Odinga supporter.
Even so, the overnight protests showed how quickly tensions could escalate. Many shops in Kisumu were closed on Tuesday and the roads were strewn with rocks and burnt tire marks.
Nancy Achieng arrived Tuesday morning to find her roadside food stall in the destroyed Kondele neighborhood.
“I lost the election and I also lost my business,” said Achieng, who had been selling beans, chapati and roasted corn there for two years.
Kenya Eurobonds slid after statements from Odinga and the commissioners but were still up on the day after recouping some of the steep losses seen on Monday.
Its dollar-denominated 2024 bond rose 1.86 cents on the dollar to 88.5 cents at 1400 GMT from over 92 cents at the end of last week.
Ruto would face an economic and social crisis as well as growing debt. Poor Kenyans already reeling from the impact of COVID-19 have been hit by soaring food and fuel prices, while a devastating drought in the north has left 4.1 million people dependent on electricity. ‘food aid.
Ruto, 55, has made Kenya’s class divisions the centerpiece of his campaign to become Kenya’s fifth president, promising to reward low-income “scammers”, but in his victory speech on Monday he vowed to to be a president for all Kenyans. Read more
Incumbent President Kenyatta, who was unable to run after two five-year terms, fell out with his deputy Ruto and backed Odinga.
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Reporting by Duncan Miriri, George Obulutsa and David Lewis in Nairobi; Additional reporting by Rachel Savage in London, Michelle Nichols in New York and Daphne Psaledakis in Washington; Written by James Macharia Chege and Aaron Ross; Editing by Catherine Evans, Tomasz Janowski and Cynthia Osterman
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