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Kenyan Prime Minister Appeals Presidential Election Results

odingaKenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga followed through with his pledge to contest the results of Kenya’s presidential election, filing an appeal with the country’s Supreme Court.

Odinga was the runner-up in the election, losing to Uhuru Kenyatta by about seven percentage points. Kenyatta managed to avoid a runoff by just 8,100 votes, despite accusations of illegitimacy in the polls. Odinga believes that Kenya’s democratic system is on trial, and that electoral authorities influenced the outcome in Kenyatta’s favor.

“I have no hesitation whatsoever in lawfully challenging the election outcome,” Odinga told reporters in Nairobi. “These failures dwarf anything Kenyans have ever witnessed in any previous election.”

“We cannot begin what is supposed to be a new era under a new constitution in the same old ways,” he added.

The election was the first since 2007, which ended in widespread ethnic and political violence. Over 1,200 were killed and thousands more displaced in the months following the elections, something both Odinga and Kenyatta promised to avoid this year. Al Jazeera reported that the Supreme Court has two weeks to decide whether or not to have a runoff.

Odinga’s supporters gathered in front of the Supreme Court building Saturday wearing shirts saying “I support the petition” and “Democracy on trial.” At least one person was injured when police used tear gas to break up the crowd, according to Al Jazeera. Police had already told the protestors that they would not to be allowed to gather, in hopes of stopping any sort of public violence before it starts.

Kenyatta and his running mate William Ruto will go on trial for crimes against humanity in July at the International Criminal Court in The Hauge. He is accused of inciting and leading a politico-religious group to violence in the aftermath of the 2007 election. The president-elect has promised to cooperate with international authorities.

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