Odinga to challenge presidential result

Following the declaration of Uhuru Kenyatta on 9 March as Kenya's president-elect, his closest rival Raila Odinga is preparing a supreme court challenge against Kenyatta's election. His appeal is expected to be filed on 13 March, as under Kenyan law he has to act within seven days of the results being announced.

Kenyatta gained 50.07 per cent of the vote to Odinga’s 43.41. Kenyatta has managed to avoid a run off against his rival in April by only 8,000 votes, the necessary margin for him to have an over 50 per cent majority.

Odinga is expected to request investigations into alleged significant fluctuations of votes in certain constituencies after the closure of the official register and, according to an Odinga aide quoted in Kenya’s Daily Nation newspaper, his team "are questioning the one million voters who voted only for president and no other position" in the 4 March presidential and parliamentary polls.

The supreme court, comprising six judges headed by chief justice Willy Mutunga, will have 14 days to make its ruling, which will be final. Mutunga has the authority to order a recount, order a new election or dismiss the appeal. According to the country's constitution, if the court determines Kenyatta's election to be invalid, a fresh election will be held within 60 days after its ruling. Mutunga said that the court would deal with the case "fairly, justly and within the timeline as outlined by the constitution."

On 20 February, during the election campaign, Mutunga revealed he had received a letter threatening him with "dire consequences" if the courts barred Kenyatta – who is under criminal charges brought by the International Criminal Court (ICC) – from contesting the election. He claimed the letter was from the “Mungiki Veterans Group/Kenya Sovereignty Defence Squad”, an outlawed group responsible for violence after the 2007 last elections.

In that election Odinga lost out to outgoing two-term president Mwai Kibaki, in a disputed poll that led to the deaths of over 1,100 people and the displacement of further hundreds of thousands.

Odinga, who now has three failed presidential bids behind him, said he will respect the court's decision and has called on his supporters to refrain from violence.

The now president-elect Kenyatta faces trial probably in July for crimes against humanity at the ICC in The Hague over his alleged role in orchestrating the violence following the 2007 elections.