Kenya Supreme Court set to rule on disputed presidential election

Raila Odinga and William Ruto

Kenya’s Supreme Court is set to decide on whether to uphold or nullify the result of last month’s presidential election.

A ruling anxiously awaited in a country scarred by previous bouts of poll-related violence.

The seven-member court said it would deliver its ruling at 12 p.m. local time (0900 GMT).

Opposition leader Raila Odinga, making his fifth presidential bid, said the Deputy President William Ruto’s narrow win was the product of massive fraud.

Four out of seven election commissioners disowned the result announced by the commission chairman, saying the tallying had been opaque.

The Supreme Court made history in the last election in 2017 by annulling President Uhuru Kenyatta’s victory over Odinga because of procedural irregularities.

Kenyatta prevailed in a re-run that Odinga boycotted.

About 100 people were killed in election-related clashes that year.

This time, protests briefly broke out in several Odinga strongholds after the election commission chair declared Ruto the victor on Aug. 15, but Odinga urged supporters to stay peaceful and the streets have remained calm since.

Traffic in the capital Nairobi was lighter than usual on Monday morning.

Police had blocked off roads leading to the court and schools were closing early.

Odinga, who was backed by the term-limited Kenyatta in this election, has alleged that a team working for Ruto hacked into the commission’s system and replaced genuine pictures of polling station result forms with fake ones, increasing Ruto’s share.

“The evidence that has been presented by the petitioner shows a well orchestrated and fraudulent scheme that was executed with military precision,” Odinga’s lawyer, Philip Murgor said earlier.

Odinga and the four dissident commissioners also accuse commission chairman Wafula Chebukati of violating electoral law by unilaterally carrying out the vote tally and declaring the result.

The official numbers showed Ruto receiving 50.49 per cent, enough to avoid a second round run-off.

Ruto and Chebukati have rejected all of these allegations. Ruto’s legal team dismissed Odinga’s claims as a “shock and awe” strategy that lacks concrete evidence.

The court’s decision is final, if it nullifies the result, a new election must be organised within 60 days. (Reuters)

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