Kenya’s PM Raila Odinga has filed a Supreme Court appeal against Uhuru Kenyatta’s narrow victory in the recent presidential election’s first round.
Uhuru Kenyatta beat Raila Odinga comfortably by 50.7% to 43.28% on March 4, avoiding a run-off by only 8,100 votes.
However, Raila Odinga has accused the electoral authorities of manipulating the result.
Police fired tear gas to disperse about 100 supporters of his Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (Cord) who had gathered outside the Supreme Court.
The police had warned them that they would not be allowed to do so.
Some of the crowd were wearing t-shirts bearing slogans including “I support the petition” and “Democracy on trial”.
The presidential, legislative and municipal elections held 12 days ago were the first since the 2007 poll which set off ethnic and political violence in which more than 1,200 people were killed.
Uhuru Kenyatta and his running mate, William Ruto, are facing trial on charges of crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court (ICC) for allegedly fuelling the unrest. They deny the charges.
Lawyers for Raila Odinga said their petition to the Supreme Court included allegations of vote manipulation, as well as problems with the registration of voters and an electronic vote counting mechanism.
“I have no hesitation whatsoever in lawfully challenging the election outcome,” Raila Odinga told reporters outside his offices in Nairobi.
“These failures dwarf anything Kenyans have ever witnessed in any previous election,” the prime minister added.
Raila Odinga has filed a Supreme Court appeal against Uhuru Kenyatta’s narrow victory in the recent presidential election’s first round
However, Raila Odinga urged his supporters not to resort to violence.“We cannot begin what is supposed to be a new era under a new constitution in the same old ways,” he added, referring to the charter adopted in 2010.
The Minister of Lands, James Orengo, a senior Cord official, said the party had a constitutional right to file the petition and a “strong case”.
“Expect a new election, and this time around no monkey-business. I think we’re going to win and win in the first round,” James Orengo told KTN TV.
“I can assure you that we have the evidence, and we have the will and the preparedness to prosecute the petition,” he added.
James Orengo nevertheless promised that Cord would respect the Supreme Court’s ruling if it went against the party, and urged Uhuru Kenyatta and his supporters to declare that they would do likewise.
In his acceptance speech last Saturday, Uhuru Kenyatta described the election as “free and fair” and a “triumph of democracy”.
The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has also insisted that the vote was credible and that it is ready for any legal scrutiny.
International observers said the election was largely free, fair and credible, and that the electoral commission had conducted its business in an open and transparent manner.
Raila Odinga was the runner-up to Mwai Kibaki in the 2007 presidential election, which he also said was stolen.
Kenyan Deputy PM Uhuru Kenyatta appears to have won the presidential election by the tightest of margins as the provisional results indicate.
After all the votes were counted Uhuru Kenyatta had polled 50.03% of the vote, 4,109 votes over the threshold required for outright victory.
However, the official result is not expected before 11:00 on Saturday.
Rival candidate Raila Odinga is set to file a legal challenge if he loses.
One of Raila Odinga’s aides said the candidate had “no intention” of conceding defeat.
Salim Lone told the Daily Nation newspaper: “The level of the failures in the system makes it very difficult to believe it was a credible result, and if Uhuru is declared president, Raila will go to court.”
Both candidates have complained of irregularities during the course of the count, since Monday’s election.
Uhuru Kenyatta won 6,173,433 votes out of a total of 12,338,667, well ahead of the prime minister, who polled 5,340,546 – or 43.28% of the vote.
Uhuru Kenyatta’s Jubilee Coalition party said it was “proud and honored for the trust” bestowed on it, adding that it had taken a message to the people and that “we are grateful to the people of Kenya for accepting this message”.
Early on Saturday, small groups of Kenyatta supporters celebrated in Nairobi, hooting car horns and singing.
If Uhuru Kenyatta is confirmed by Kenya’s Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), he could face difficult relations with Western countries.
He faces trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague in July for crimes against humanity.
He is accused of fuelling communal violence after the 2007 election that saw more than 1,000 people killed and 600,000 forced from their homes.
Uhuru Kenyatta’s running mate, William Ruto, also faces similar charges.
Both men deny the accusations.
Kenyan Deputy PM Uhuru Kenyatta appears to have won the presidential election by the tightest of margins as the provisional results indicate
The ICC has agreed to postpone William Ruto’s trial by a month until May after his lawyers complained of not having enough time to prepare his defence.
Countries including the US and UK have hinted that his election as president would have consequences for their relations with the Nairobi government – comments which have been dismissed in Nairobi as unwanted foreign interference in domestic matters.
Kenya’s new electronic voting system was designed to eliminate the chance of vote-rigging and with it any risk of a repeat of the post-poll violence of 2007.
But the count has been plagued with technical glitches, including a programming error that led to the number of rejected votes being multiplied by a factor of eight. By Wednesday, the electronic system was abandoned and the count restarted by hand.
According to Kenya’s election rules, the winner needs to poll more than 50% of the vote to avoid a second round run-off next month.
If the election commission confirms that Uhuru Kenyatta has crossed the 50% threshold by such a narrow margin, then Raila Odinga’s officials say he will challenge the outcome.
The prime minister’s Cord alliance had earlier complained that votes from 11 constituencies were missing, in effect leaving him more than 250,000 votes short.
Both men passed a second condition needed for victory – at least 25% of the vote in more than half of the 47 counties.
Kenya is voting in an election that observers describe as the most important in the country’s history.
It is the first time a vote has taken place under Kenyan new constitution, designed to prevent a repeat of violence that followed the 2007 polls.
More than 1,000 people died in widespread ethnic violence when supporters of rival candidates clashed.
Despite appeals for calm, at least four police officers died when they were attacked near Mombasa on Monday.
At least six other people – including several attackers – are also reported to have died in the assault in the early hours in Changamwe, half an hour’s drive from the centre of Mombasa.
Reports from around the country suggested long lines of voters were forming before polling stations opened.
Some technical difficulties were reported with newly instituted biometric voting kits – designed to counter claims of vote-rigging and long delays in announcing poll results that were partly blamed for the violence last time.
Kenyans will choose a president, members of parliament and senators, county governors and members of 47 county assemblies.
Eight presidential candidates are standing but it is essentially a two-horse race pitting Prime Minister Raila Odinga against Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta.
Some observers say they are particularly concerned about violence erupting should neither of the two frontrunners poll more than 50% – in which case the vote will go to a run-off, probably on April 11.
Uhuru Kenyatta, son of Kenya’s founding father Jomo Kenyatta, is due to stand trial at the International Criminal Court for his alleged role in orchestrating the violence five years ago.
His running mate, William Ruto, has also been indicted by the court. Both men deny any wrongdoing.
Kenya is voting in an election that observers describe as the most important in the country’s history
The post-election violence of 2007-8 broke out after Raila Odinga claimed he had been cheated of victory by supporters of President Mwai Kibaki.
Supporters of the rival candidates, from different ethnic groups, took up arms against each other.
Raila Odinga later joined a government of national unity under a peace deal.
In the run-up to Monday’s vote, President Mwai Kibaki – who is not seeking re-election – urged Kenyans to vote peacefully and for the losers to accept defeat.
“Cast your vote and keep the peace,” he said in a televised address to the nation on Friday.
“Let us send a clear message to the world that our democracy has come of age. A peaceful vote is a vote for a secure, prosperous and stable Kenya.”
Candidates have also promised to respect the result and urged their supporters to refrain from violence.
Clerics across Kenya also gave sermons dedicated to peace on Sunday.
The police, however, have warned of conspiracies to cause chaos – in Nairobi and elsewhere – and have made it clear that violence will not be tolerated.
Security is being stepped up with some 99,000 police officers being deployed around the country, at polling stations and vote-counting centres.
The polling stations are open from 06:00 to 17:00 local time.
Presidential candidates must secure support from across the country to be declared the winner, so they cannot just rely on support from their ethnic groups, as has been the case in previous elections.
Official results will be announced by March 11 by the electoral commission.
Kenyan election in numbers:
- 14 million registered voters
- 8 presidential candidates
- 99,000 police officers being deployed
- First election under new constitution
- Winning presidential candidates need 50% of vote + 25% in half of 47 counties
- Voters will get ballot papers for 6 different elections
- 100,000 people still living in camps after violence followed 2007 poll
- Uhuru Kenyatta among the favorites despite facing trial at the ICC, where he is accused of crimes against humanity over last election