Kenya’s Opposition Leader Challenges Polls in Supreme Court

Kenya’s Supreme Court Monday began hearing veteran opposition leader Raila Odinga’s challenge to President Uhuru Kenyatta’s re-election earlier this month.

Odinga, a former prime minister, has charged that Kenyatta won the elections by fraud. Odinga was in court as his legal team alleged that the electoral commission did not follow the law in adding up voting tallies and presented fictitious results that had been changed to give victory to Kenyatta.

Odinga’s lawyers Monday charged that the original voting results forms were replaced with forms lacking security features such as a bar codes, watermarks and stamps. Most international observers have said the election results are credible

The opposition leader rejected the August 11 electoral commission declaration that Uhuru Kenyatta won the presidential race with 54 percent of the vote.

The announcement sparked two days of protests by Odinga’s supporters. Police suppressed the protests violently using bullets and tear gas. At least 24 people were killed by police gunfire, according to the government’s human rights watchdog. Those killed included a six-month-old baby who was clobbered on the head with a baton when police broke into her parents’ home in western Kenya and a nine-year-old girl hit by a stray bullet in Nairobi.

Kenyan authorities should urgently investigate the deaths and ensure that officers found to have used excessive force are held accountable, an international human rights group said Monday.

“The brutal crackdown on protesters and residents in the western counties, part of a pattern of violence and repression in opposition strongholds, undermined the national elections,” said Otsieno Namwaya, Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch. “People have a right to protest peacefully, and Kenyan authorities should urgently put a stop to police abuse and hold those responsible to account.”

Odinga, who unsuccessfully challenged Kenyatta’s election in 2013, at first said he did not trust the courts and would resort to other means, including street protests to challenge Kenyatta’s 2017 win. He later announced that he would petition the Supreme Court to nullify Kenyatta’s win.


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