Kenya’s defeated opposition leader Raila Odinga declared the results of Kenya’s presidential election “null and void” on Tuesday the day after narrowly losing the race.
Speaking publicly for the first time since his defeat, Ruto called for a legal challenge to his rival William Ruto’s surprise victory.
“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 told a news conference.
“What we saw yesterday was a travesty,” he said. “Let no one take the law into their own hands.”
Chebukati, who announced Monday’s results, is accused by the opposition of overruling questions from dissenting electoral commissioners, who queried the final tally and validity of the result on Monday.
Shortly before the announcement of Ruto’s victory, four of the seven members of the IEBC disowned the results.
At a press conference at a Nairobi hotel on Monday, Chebukati’s deputy and IEBC vice-chairman Juliana Cerera said:
“As you can see we are here and not at the Bomas due to the opaque nature of the way this [last] phase has been handled.
“We therefore cannot take ownership of the results to be announced,” she said, urging parties to go to court over the dispute.
Speaking for the four commissioners on Tuesday, Cherera said the results were erroneously aggregated and argued that 142,000 votes had not properly been accounted for, which she argued might be enough to affect the outcome of the race. 233,000 votes ultimately separated Ruto and Odinga.
Odinga, whose defeat marks the fifth time he has contended and lost an election, did not attend the announcement event in Bomas.
Chaos erupts as results are confirmed
Clashes erupted at the election centre in Nairobi as officials prepared to announce the results on Monday.
A podium, chairs and bottles were thrown as scuffles broke out between police, election officials and party members.
Election observers were escorted off the premises.
Challenge likely to stoke violence
Odinga has 7 days to contest the result and petition Kenya’s Supreme Court of a re-election.
The possible challenge comes as the results of the last presidential election in 2017 were annulled after the Supreme Court ruled that the electoral commission had not followed protocol on vote tallies.
A similar legal challenge could spark tensions in areas heavily contested by the candidates, says Ben Hunter, Africa analyst at Verisk Maplecroft.
“A legal challenge would plunge the country into a period of political instability, it would also function as a pressure relief valve in that a Supreme Court petition would defuse social tensions while groups await the result.
“The police have not been significantly reformed since they killed dozens of protestors in 2017,” Hunter adds.
Accusations of vote rigging and fake news surfaced as early as Thursday as the chairman of Kenya’s governing Jubilee party claimed, without producing any proof, that the elections were rigged, fuelling public anxiety.
Meanwhile Twitter flagged tweets from leading Kenyan officials announcing winners of the race, warning users on the social media platform to fact-check the information as the Kenyan electoral authority “might not have called the election results when this was Tweeted”.
As the nation awaited the results of Tuesday’s election a top official from Odinga’s Azimio party, Saitabao Ole Kanchory, was ejected from the vote counting centre. He told Citizen TV:
“We have intelligence reports that their system was penetrated and hacked and that some of the IEBC officials actually committed electoral offences and some of them ought to have been arrested if they were not arrested.
Over 22m of registered voters cast their votes, around 56.17% of Kenya’s 54 million population.