Kenya's losing presidential candidate refuses to accept ‘travesty’ election result

·4 min read
Protesters carry a stork after Kenya declared William Ruto the winner over Raila Odinga in the close presidential election - Photo by Ed Ram/Getty Images)
Protesters carry a stork after Kenya declared William Ruto the winner over Raila Odinga in the close presidential election - Photo by Ed Ram/Getty Images)

Kenya has been plunged into turmoil as the defeated candidate in its presidential election rejected the results, amid claims 100.01 per cent of votes had been counted.

Raila Odinga, the former prime minister, called the result "null and void", as four of the seven election commissioners told the press they also considered the tally invalid.

“We totally without reservation reject the presidential election results,“ the 77-year-old veteran politician said on Tuesday, to a cheering audience in downtown Nairobi.

The stakes are high as previous Kenyan elections have been marked by violence with 1,200 people killed in the aftermath of the 2007 vote.

On Monday, William Ruto was announced president-elect after securing 50.49 per cent of the vote. The ballot had been cast as "dynasties versus hustlers", as Mr Odinga is a political scion while Mr Ruto makes much of his roots as a chicken farmer.

Mr Odinga claims the vote was mired in fraud, but has not made any evidence public so far to support his claim. He vowed to pursue “all constitutional and legal options” to stop the election in its tracks and said that there was no President-elect.

At his speech, Mr Odinga went on to lambast the head of the independent electoral body that announced the results on Monday, accusing him of a “blatant disregard of the constitution”.

“What we saw yesterday was a travesty,” he said, but appealed to his supporters to remain peaceful. “Let no one take the law into their own hands,” he added.

Outgoing president Uhuru Kenyatta’s election victory in 2013 was made possible by Mr Ruto’s supporters in Kenya’s Rift Valley region.

In return Mr Ruto, who was made deputy president, had hoped for Mr Kenyatta’s support for the top job this year - but his boss threw his weight behind Mr Odinga instead. This break in Kenyan politics has captivated the nation for the last four years, with MPs, businessmen and advisers jostling to take sides.

A few minutes before Mr Odinga’s speech, four of the electoral commission’s seven commissioners convened a press conference in Nairobi’s plush Serena hotel to reject the results, claiming to have been overruled by the body’s chairman.

Raila Odinga at a press conference after the election - Tony Karumba/AFP via Getty Images
Raila Odinga at a press conference after the election - Tony Karumba/AFP via Getty Images

In a bizarre turn of events that left spectators scratching their heads, they pointed to a rounding error that meant the official results added up to 100.01 per cent.

They erroneously argued that this meant an extra 140,000 votes could have swung the election. In fact, it meant 1,400 extra votes had been counted, which would have no impact on the final result.

One of the four - Juliana Cherera, the deputy chairman - later said the tiny mistake still pointed to problems with the overall count.

Mr Odinga’s team now has seven days from the announcement of the results on Tuesday to appeal them before the Supreme Court, which will have to give its verdict in 14 days.

Supporters of William Ruto celebrate the result of the poll - Patrick Meinhardt/AFP via Getty Images
Supporters of William Ruto celebrate the result of the poll - Patrick Meinhardt/AFP via Getty Images

The political drama followed news that the body of an election official had been found stripped naked with signs of torture, according to local media.

Daniel Musyoka, 53, was a returning officer employed by Kenya’s independent election body for the Embakasi East constituency, on the outskirts of Nairobi.

He was responsible for making sure the election was legal and transferring the results from his constituency to the national tally centre. However he disappeared last week, before he could fulfil his role.

His body was found dumped in a dried-up river bed at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro, near the Tanzanian border by herders, on Monday, according to local media.

There has been an unprecedented push for transparency in this year’s vote. On the night of the election, citizens could access almost all of the results of the roughly 46,000 polling stations online. Analysts hope this will make the risk of any post-election violence less likely.