Kenya’s election goes into legal overtime

Former prime minister and opposition leader Raila Odinga has the support of a majority in the electoral commission. Many suspect the renegade commissioners have been bribed or are under pressure.

Calls the published election result a “parody”: the opposition candidate Raila Odinga.

Ben Curtis/AP

Kenya’s election, the result of which was announced on Monday, is likely to involve an additional legal loop. On Tuesday, defeated presidential candidate Raila Odinga said in Nairobi: “The numbers announced are null and void, they must be overturned by a court.” Odinga criticized that the head of the electoral authority had announced an election result that had only been approved by a minority of the election commissioners.

In fact, 4 of the 7 commissioners surprisingly called a press conference before the announcement and said they could not accept the result. The counting process was “opaque” in the end.

Shortly after the commissioners’ statement, William Ruto was declared the winner and new president with 50.49 percent of the votes. Ruto is Kenya’s previous Vice President. Raila Odinga, the longtime opposition leader and former prime minister, came in second with 48.85 of the vote.

A mathematically weak argument

On Tuesday, the four renegade commissioners detailed their criticisms in a second press conference. They explained that the total percentages of all four presidential candidates added up to 100.01 percent – a “mathematical absurdity”. As a result, 142,000 additional voters appeared in the statistics.

The argument is mathematically flimsy, since the extra 0.01 percent can be explained by adding rounded percentages together. In addition, 0.01 percent of the 14.2 million votes cast would not be 142,000 additional votes, but 1420.

The rest of the arguments put forward by the commissioners were of a formal nature. Like Odinga, they complained that the final result had not been approved by the election commissioners. Many Kenyans suspect that the renegade commissioners have either been bribed or are under pressure.

It is very likely that Kenya’s highest court will now have to decide whether the election is valid. Raila Odinga’s campaign has until Monday to lodge a formal complaint.

Protests in the evening, calm the day after

After William Ruto was proclaimed president on Monday night, despite the intervention of the commissioners, protests erupted in the capital Nairobi and in Kisumu, Odinga’s western stronghold. The day after, the situation was calm even after Odinga’s explanation. A few dozen guests were sitting in a bar in Kisumu, next to an intersection where the police had used tear gas to drive away demonstrators the night before. They drank beer and ate grilled meat. One of them was Lucas Okoth, a 39-year-old construction worker. While the TV on the wall was playing a repeat of Odinga’s statement, he said: “Now we are waiting for the court’s decision. Then we get on with our lives.”

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