Odinga files challenge against Kenyan presidential election | Africa | DW | 16.03.2013
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Odinga files challenge against Kenyan presidential election

Defeated Kenyan presidential candidate Raila Odinga has filed a legal challenge against the March 4 election results. Police fired tear gas outside of the Supreme Court to disperse protests by Odinga’s supporters.

In his legal challenge submitted on Saturday, Odinga said that last week's election was marred by vote manipulation, problems with registering voters and the failure of an electronic vote counting system.

"These failures dwarf anything Kenyans have ever witnessed in any previous election," Odinga told reporters on the doorstep of his office in Nairobi.

Deputy Prime Minister and president-elect Uhuru Kenyatta won the election with 50.07 percent of the vote, just above the 50 percent needed to avoid a second round presidential runoff. Odinga won 43.31 percent of ballots cast. Turnout in the election stood at 86 percent.

Odinga's party, Coalition for Reform and Democracy (CORD), has accused the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) of engaging in a “fraudulent enterprise” with Kenyatta.

During the 2007 presidential election, the previous electoral commission manipulated the vote in favor of outgoing president Mwai Kibaki, contributing to Odinga's defeat in that contest.

Calls for calm

The disputed 2007 election sparked protests by Odinga supporters and interethnic violence, in which over 1,000 people were killed and more than 660,000 displaced. Kenyatta has been indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague for crimes against humanity allegedly committed during the 2007-2008 post-election violence.

Odinga called on his supporters to refrain from violence in the aftermath of the 2013 election.

"We cannot begin what is supposed to be a new era under a new constitution in the same old ways," he said.

Protests outside of Supreme Court

Police fired tear gas at about one hundred Odinga supporters, who rallied outside of the Supreme Court on Saturday in Nairobi. The demonstrators wore t-shirts bearing the slogan “Democracy on Trial,” adopted by Odinga after his opponent Kenyatta was declared victor. One person was reported injured during Saturday's demonstrations.

Odinga's legal team has said that his case before the Supreme Court is a “legitimate legal process.”

“We are not interested in side shows,” Odinga lawyer Mutula Kilonzo said. “It would be completely unethical to [advise] our client to move to court if there was no sufficient evidence.”

slk/xx (AP, dpa, Reuters)