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The Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga has said he will go to court over last week’s presidential election results, ignoring calls by some election observers for him to concede defeat to President Uhuru Kenyatta.
Twenty-four people have died in violence since the election on 8 August. Odinga’s decision will ease concerns that he may call for demonstrations that could trigger further violence.
“We have now decided to move to the supreme court,” the 72-year-old leader of the National Super Alliance (Nasa) coalition told reporters in the capital, Nairobi. “This is just the beginning, we will not accept and move on.”
The election board said on Friday that Kenyatta had beaten Odinga by 1.4m votes to win a second five-year term.
Odinga claims the election was rigged in favour of Kenyatta through the hacking and manipulation of the electronic vote-counting system. He has not yet provided proof of rigging but promised to do so in court.
The move to the judiciary will relieve Kenyans who feared a repeat of the violence that followed a 2007 vote when Odinga called for protests. Around 1,200 people died in the unrest.
Odinga also contested – and officially lost – an election in 2013, but quelled potential violence by taking his case to court. Judges eventually ruled that much of his evidence was being submitted outside time limits set by the court, frustrating his supporters and sparking suspicion over the judiciary’s independence.
Odinga emphasised in his speech that his decision did not mean he was giving up the fight. “By going to court we are not legitimising misplaced calls from some observers for us to concede. We are seeking to give to those who braved the long lines in the morning chill and hot afternoon … a chance to be heard,” he said.
“We will preach peace … we will uphold our rights to assemble and protest. We shall hold vigils, moments of silence, beat drums and do everything else to peacefully draw attention to the gross electoral injustices … and demand redress.”
Odinga’s decision will ease concerns about further violence after Uhuru Kenyatta declared winner by 1.4m votes