Kenya’s opposition leader, Raila Odinga, has filed a petition in the country’s Supreme Court challenging the results of this month’s presidential poll in which his rival William Ruto was declared victorious.
In the petition, Odinga asks the court to nullify the vote’s outcome on several grounds including a mismatch between the turnout figures and the result, and failure by the commission to tally ballots from 27 constituencies as required by law.
Last week, the Chairperson of the Independent and Electoral Boundaries Commission (IEBC) Wafula Chebukati declared Deputy President William Ruto as winner of the election by a slim margin, but four out of seven commissioners dissented, saying the tallying of results had not been transparent.
“The final result… was therefore not complete, accurate, verifiable or accountable and cannot be the basis for a valid and legitimate declaration,” part of the petition reads.
The Commission, its Chairman and Ruto have four days to respond to Odinga’s claims through court filings.
On Monday, IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati declared Ruto the winner with 50.49% of the vote against Odinga’s 48.5%. However, following Chebukati’s declaration, Odinga said the results were a “travesty” but said he would settle the dispute in court and urged supporters to remain peaceful.
This is Odinga’s fifth shot at the presidency and he has on all attempts blamed previous losses on rigging. Similar disputes triggered violence that claimed more than 100 lives in 2017 and more than 1,200 lives in 2007.
During a press briefing held at Kenyatta International Convention Center, Raila described the 2022 election as one that represented the most daring move by cartels who wished “to overturn the wishes of the electorate.”
“We refuse to allow Kenya go that direction. It must not happen and it will not happen. That’s what the step we have taken today and ones we will take going forward are all about; to stop the corruption cartels from getting to the heart of our nation and government. Otherwise we will have no country” Odinga said as he rallied his supporters to “Walk the talk.”
In 2017, the Supreme Court overturned the election result and ordered a re-run, which Odinga boycotted, saying he had no faith in the election commission. This time, Odinga is backed by the political establishment. President Uhuru Kenyatta endorsed Odinga’s candidacy after falling out with Ruto after the last election.
The case will be heard by the seven-member Supreme Court and presided over by Martha Koome, Kenya’s first female chief justice, who was appointed by Kenyatta last year.
The court will next conduct a status conference with all parties to define the hearing schedule and ground rules. The constitution requires judges to issue their decision within 14 days of the lawsuit being filed.
According to the Constitution of Kenya, the court process is expected to be concluded within 14 days and in case of a rerun, an election must be conducted within 60 days.