Kenyan politician Raila Odinga dismissed as a “travesty” the results of the August 9 presidential election, which he lost to Deputy President William Ruto, and warned on Tuesday of a protracted legal crisis facing Kenya’s democracy.
His first comments on the results came after four of the seven electoral commission members said they stood by their decision a day earlier to reject the figures announced by electoral commission chairman Wafula Chebukati.
The dramatic series of events raised fears of violence similar to that which followed disputed polls in East Africa’s richest country in 2007, when more than 1,200 people were killed, and again in 2017, when more than 100 people died.
Overnight, Odinga supporters clashed with police and burned tires in the western city of Kisumu and in the sprawling Kibera slum in the capital, Nairobi, but calm had returned to the streets by Tuesday morning.
“Our view is that the figures given by Chebukati are invalid and should be overturned by the court,” said Odinga, a veteran opposition leader and five-time presidential candidate, this time backed by outgoing President Uhuru Kenyatta.
“What we saw yesterday was a travesty,” he told reporters, but urged his supporters to remain calm.
“Let no one take the law into their own hands,” he said.
Before taking the stage, Odinga broadcast a press conference of dissenting commission members.
He said he was not yet ready to announce specific legal steps.
Odinga must file an appeal with the Supreme Court by next Monday.
Speaking on behalf of the four commissioners, Electoral Commission deputy chairperson Juliana Cerera said the results showing Ruto won with 50.49% had been wrongly aggregated and that Chebukati had ignored concerns about the vote count raised by other commissioners.
Cerrera later said that one of her main claims was based on a mathematical error.
She initially highlighted the four-candidate race’s 100.01% vote share, saying an extra 0.01% would add up to 142,000 votes, enough to potentially sway the election.
Ruto defeated Odinga by about 233,000 votes.
Asked by Reuters, Cerrera later acknowledged that 0.01% of the 14.2 million votes cast actually accounted for 1,420, but said the tally still showed a lack of data quality control.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres spoke to Ruto on Tuesday and hopes to speak with Odinga on Wednesday, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said, adding that Guterres hoped the electoral process would be completed in accordance with the law.
US State Department spokesman Ned Price urged the parties to work together to “peacefully resolve any remaining issues surrounding the election” through existing dispute resolution mechanisms and urged political party leaders to urge their supporters to remain calm. “We hope that calm and patience will prevail,” Price told reporters, adding that Washington would continue to maintain close contact with its Kenyan partners.