New Vision (Kampala)

15 March 2013

Kenya: Odinga to File Supreme Court Election Petition On Friday

Nairobi — Defeated presidential contender Raila Odinga will on Friday file a petition challenging the result of Kenya's election, alleging collusion between the president-elect and the electoral commission, his allies said on Thursday.

Odinga, the prime minister, has refused to concede the vote which saw Uhuru Kenyatta, who faces international charges for crimes against humanity, declared the winner in a tightly fought election on March 4.

But there has been no repeat of deadly tribal violence that shattered Kenya after a disputed 2007 election result. Odinga has urged backers to stay calm while he challenges the latest outcome in the top court and says he will accept its decision.

Odinga's petition will prove that the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) and Kenyatta's TNA party conspired to rig the outcome, according to James Orengo, a senior official in Odinga's CORD coalition.

"We are going to allege fraud. There was collusion between the IEBC and TNA. They entered into some sort of fraudulent enterprise and we are going to be able to show that," Orengo, Kenya's outgoing lands minister, told Reuters.

The IEBC has repeatedly called the vote credible despite a series of technological glitches on voting day and during the tallying of ballots. International observers have also said the vote was broadly credible.

The commission has said it is ready for any legal scrutiny. Calls to the IEBC spokeswoman went unanswered.

Odinga has said he will appeal to nullify Kenyatta's victory in what will be the first significant case for a new Supreme Court set up under a constitution adopted in a 2010 referendum.

Kenyatta comfortably beat Odinga in terms of votes won but only narrowly avoided a run-off after winning just 8,100 votes more than the 50 percent needed to be declared the winner outright.

TRANSPARENT HEARING

Odinga's petition will focus on what they called flaws in the registration of voters, the failure of a new electronic system for transmitting results and, his camp said, the subsequent doctoring of results that were delivered by hand.

Asked where rigging in the count occurred, Orengo said: "All the way from the polling stations to the constituency level with the returning officer right up to the national tallying centre."

Five years ago Odinga lost another presidential election that he also said was stolen. He called for peaceful mass action from supporters because he did not trust the judiciary to be fair, but violence spread across the country. More than 1,200 people were killed.

Whether the Supreme Court can deliver a swift and credible resolution of the latest election dispute will affect public confidence in ongoing reforms in the judiciary. Chief Justice Willy Mutunga has promised to deal with any election petitions in a fair, speedy and transparent manner.

In his acceptance speech on Saturday, Kenyatta declared the vote "free and fair", though he said the electoral process could be made more refined and efficient in future.

Orengo told a news conference the IEBC was being deliberately slow in releasing documents that Odinga's camp had requested to make its case. "It is part of the design of the commission that we should not be able to get these documents until the very last minute," he said.

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