Kenya’s opposition leader challenges election result in Supreme Court

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Kenya’s veteran opposition leader Raila Odinga has challenged the results of this month’s presidential election in the Supreme Court.

His lawyer Daniel Manzo confirmed that the challenge was filed online on Monday, which intensified the political conflict in the country.

“After today the other parties will have four days to respond,” Mr Manzo told reporters.

A judiciary source confirmed that they have received a copy of the file.

Last week, the election commissioner announced that Vice President William Ruto had won the election by a narrow margin, but four of the seven election commissioners disagreed, saying the tally of results was not transparent.

Mr Odinga, who leads the Azimio La Umoza party, called the results a “ludicrous one” but said he would settle the dispute in court and urged supporters to remain peaceful.

This is Mr. Odinga’s fifth stab at the presidency and he has blamed rigging for many previous losses. Those controversies led to violence that claimed the lives of more than 100 people in 2017 and over 1,200 in 2007.

In 2017, the Supreme Court overturned the election result and ordered a re-run, which Mr Odinga boycotted saying he had no faith in the Election Commission.

This time the opposition leader has the support of the political establishment. President Uhuru Kenyatta backed his candidacy after the last election with Mr Ruto falling out.

At stake is control of East Africa’s wealthiest and most stable nation, where firms such as General Electric, Google and Uber have regional headquarters. Kenya also provides peacekeepers for neighboring Somalia and holds peace talks for other countries in the often troubled East Africa region.

The case will be heard by a seven-member Supreme Court and will be presided over by Kenya’s first female Chief Justice Martha Koom, who was appointed by Kenyatta last year.

The court will hold 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 after a lawsuit is filed.

Due to the tight schedule, it typically issues a summary judgment within 14 days, followed by more thorough decisions at a later date from each of the seven judges.

A week earlier, Election Commission chairman Wafula Chebukati declared Mr Ruto the winner with 50.49 per cent of the vote against Odinga’s 48.5 per cent.

But minutes earlier, his deputy Juliana Cherreira told the media in a different location that he and three other commissioners had disapproved of the results.

He said the elections were conducted in a fair way – and most international observers agreed – but that the results were collected incorrectly.

Public confusion prevailed after Kenyan media postponed the counting of results of 46,229 polling-station level with nearly 80 per cent of the votes counted.

The Election Commission website still does not display the correct form for all the 291 constituencies. In some cases, the form is incomplete or only partially filled out, making it impossible for the public to confirm the commission count.

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