Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Odinga says presidential election result ‘null and void’

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Nairobi/Kisumu – Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga rejected as “null and void” the result of an August 9 presidential election he was declared to have lost, adding on Tuesday that Kenya’s democracy faces a long legal crisis.

His first comments on the result came shortly after four of the seven election commissioners said they stood by their decision a day earlier to disown the outcome 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.

“What we saw yesterday was a travesty,” he said. “Let no one take the law into their own hands.”

Chebukati declared current deputy president William Ruto the winner on Monday with 50.49% of the vote against Odinga’s 48.5%.

Minutes earlier, his deputy Juliana Cherera told media at a separate location that she and three other commissioners disowned the results.

Speaking for the group on Tuesday, Cherera said the results that gave Ruto a wafer-thin victory were erroneously aggregated and accused Chebukati of over-ruling their questions on the final tally.

She said the elections had been conducted in a proper manner.

Chebukati and the four dissenting commissioners did not respond to Reuters requests for comment.

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

In his speech, he urged his supporters to maintain peace and not to take the law into their own hands.

Monday’s dramatic events have raised fears of violence like that seen after past elections in Kenya, usually one of Africa’s most stable countries, and Odinga had faced calls from home and abroad to commit to resolving any disputes in the courts.

Five years ago, 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.

At a crowded restaurant in the western city of Kisumu, an Odinga stronghold, there was sporadic applause as he rejected yesterday’s results on “live” television.

In Kisumu and Nairobi’s huge Kibera slum, where most voters also strongly favour Odinga, quiet had returned to the streets after protesters battled police and burned tyres overnight.

(Reuters)

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