“The figures released by Mr. Chebukati is invalid and should be crushed by the court,” Odinga said at a press conference. “I want to applaud our supporters for keeping calm and keeping the peace and I urge them to keep it up. No one should take the law into their own hands.”
“We are pursuing constitutional and legal channels and processes to impeach Mr. Washington. Chebukati’s statement is illegal and unconstitutional,” he added.
His statement raises the specter of violence between his supporters and the winning side that has marred past elections. So far, apart from scattered protests, Kenya has been quiet following the results.
“Raila has decided to go to court and has asked his supporters to be calm and wait for the courts to decide,” said Meron Elias, an analyst for East and Southern Africa at the International Crisis Group. “Despite the uncertainty, this is a reassuring decision.”
Odinga’s announcement could bring a repeat of Kenya’s 2017 election results, after his campaign challenged incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta’s victory at the Supreme Court, which declared the vote invalid.
Kenyatta still won a run-off after Odinga told his supporters not to vote out of confidence in the electoral body. That period was marked by violent street protests and human rights violations.
As the country awaited election results on Monday afternoon, Saitabao Ole Kanchori, one of Odinga’s top election officials, said the electoral system had been “infiltrated and hacked” and “some IEBC officials committed electoral irregularities”. “
Minutes before the announcement of the results, four of Kenya’s seven electoral commission members said they would not be with them. At a press conference on Tuesday, they said the results were announced by the chairman before all commissioners had a chance to consult on the schedules and objections raised by the parties.
“Our problem is with the process,” Commissioner Justus Nyang’aya said shortly before Odinga’s press conference. “If it’s not determined by the commissioners, then it remains the duty, role and responsibility of just one person in the boardroom.”
Ruto’s announcement of victory on Monday sparked celebrations across the country. In Ngong, a town on the outskirts of Nairobi, motorists organized processions on the road, honking their horns while celebrating. Meanwhile, in Ruto’s hometown of Sugoi, people celebrated late into the night.
In the western Kenyan city of Kisumu, Odinga’s base of support, protesters briefly burned tires and blocked roads with stones before police dispersed them.
This is expected to be Odinga’s last attempt at the presidency. It was the 77-year-old’s fifth attempt at the top job.
The country’s most serious election violence came when Odinga narrowly lost to Mwai Kibaki in 2007 – also amid allegations of vote rigging. Post-election violence has left more than 1,000 people dead and more than 5,000 displaced.
In Kibera, a Nairobi slum considered a stronghold for Odinga, crowds gathered to watch live broadcasts before the results in previous days dispersed. “The announcement was disappointing; We will do whatever Odinga says, he is our leader. We trust his judgment for the way forward,” said one of the supporters, Job Owino.
Mathare resident Mercy Wanjiru, 30, who was displaced during the 2007 post-election violence, said she was happy with Ruto’s victory and hoped Odinga would agree to avoid a repeat of the violence.
“We have a country to build,” he said. “Now it’s time to heal and move on.”