Raila Odinga declares Kenya election results null and void and calls for calm

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NAIROBI — Kenyan presidential candidate Raila Odinga has declared the election results “null and void” and vowed to challenge them in court, ignoring calls for him to yield to declared winner William Ruto.

Ruto was named the winner of last week’s election by Wafula Chebukati, chairperson of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission of Kenya (IEBC), on Monday – an announcement marred by allegations of voter fraud and dissent among members of the commission during the close race.

“The figures announced by Mr. Chebukati are null and void and must be crushed by a court,” Odinga told a press conference. “I want to commend our supporters for staying calm and keeping the peace and urge them to continue to do so, not to let anyone take the law into their own hands.”

“We are seeking constitutional and legal avenues and processes to invalidate Mr. Chebukati’s illegal and unconstitutional declaration,” he added.

William Ruto declared winner of Kenyan presidential election

His statement raises the specter of violence between his supporters and that of the winner, which marred the last elections. So far, apart from scattered protests, Kenya has remained silent following the results.

Odinga’s announcement could lead to a repeat of Kenya’s election result in 2017 when his campaign challenged incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta’s victory in the Supreme Court, which then declared the vote invalid.

Kenyatta still won the rerun, after Odinga told his supporters not to vote, citing mistrust of the electorate. This period was marked by violent street demonstrations and human rights violations.

On Monday afternoon, as the country awaited election results, one of Odinga’s top election officials, Saitabao Ole Kanchory, said he had received reports that the electoral system had been “penetrated and hacked” and that “some IEBC officials had committed electoral offences. ”

Minutes before the results were announced, four of Kenya’s seven electoral commissioners said they would not support them. At a press conference on Tuesday, they said the results were announced by the president before the commissioners had all had a chance to consult on the tables and objections raised by the parties.

“The problem we have is with the process,” commissioner Justus Nyang’aya said shortly before Odinga’s press conference. “If not determined by the commissioners, it remains the duty, role and responsibility of one person in the meeting room.”

Monday’s announcement of Ruto’s victory sparked nationwide celebrations from his supporters. In the town of Ngong, on the outskirts of Nairobi, drivers honked their horns and formed processions down the road as they celebrated. Meanwhile, in Ruto’s hometown of Sugoi, people were celebrating until late.

In the western Kenyan town of Kisumu, a support base for Odinga, protesters briefly lit tires in the street, blocking roads with rocks before police dispersed them.

Kenyans go to the polls in hotly contested and closely watched elections

This is expected to be Odinga’s last bid for the presidency. It was the 77-year-old’s fifth try for the top job.

The country’s most serious wave of electoral violence came with Odinga’s 2007 defeat of Mwai Kibaki by a narrow margin – also amid allegations of electoral fraud. The post-election violence left more than 1,000 dead and more than 5,000 displaced.

In Kibera, a Nairobi slum seen as a stronghold of Odinga, crowds that had gathered in previous days to watch live broadcasts ahead of the results had dispersed. “The announcement was disappointing; whatever Odinga says is what we will do, he is our leader. We trust his judgment for the way forward,” said Job Owino, a supporter.

Mercy Wanjiru, 30, a resident of Mathare who was displaced during post-election violence in 2007, said she was happy with Ruto’s victory and hoped Odinga would give in to avoid a repeat of the violence.

“We have a country to build,” she said. “Now is the time to heal and move on.”

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