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Kenya court upholds Kenyatta’s presidential election win, triggers counter rallies

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Kenya’s Supreme Court on November 20, 2017 ruled out irregularities in the country’s October 26 presidential election re-run, validating the poll victory of President Uhuru Kenyatta in Nairobi, Kenya. (Photo by AFP)

Kenya’s top court has upheld the validity of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s reelection in a repeat vote last month, triggering a new wave of rallies for and against the ruling.

On Monday, Kenya’s Supreme Court dismissed opposition claims of irregularities in the October 26 presidential vote rerun, in which Kenyatta was reelected as president, and validated the results.

“There is no perfect election; there will always be errors in elections, but you cannot invalidate an election unless those errors affect the outcome,” said Attorney General Githu Muigai.

Reacting to the verdict, opposition leader Raila Odinga said the Supreme Court’s ruling was no surprise.

Odinga boycotted the presidential election rerun in October, on the grounds that electoral reforms had not been made after the first vote in August was nullified.

Kenya’s opposition party National Super Alliance (NASA) leader Raila Odinga leaves after seeing a dead body on ground at Riverside slum in Nairobi, Kenya, on November 19, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

With no other serious contender, Kenyatta won the rerun easily.

“We ... had repeatedly declared before this Supreme Court ruling today that we consider this government to be illegitimate and do not recognize it. This position has not been changed by the court ruling,” Odinga said.

Odinga claimed the court’s decision was “taken under duress. We do not condemn the court, we sympathize with it.”

He did not give details. There had been concerns about intimidation of the justices after the bodyguard of one of them was shot just hours before the court was to hear a request to postpone last month’s election.

The court’s announcement brought both supporters and opponents of Kenyatta onto the streets on Monday.

Residents in the western city of Kisumu, where Odinga has strong backing, held a protest against the verdict, with youths barricading roads there.

“We will not respect him even after the court verdict. That was not an election and we will continue opposing him,” said one resident of the opposition stronghold of Kisumu city, Wycliffe Onyango.

Kenyatta’s supporters also held their own demonstrations, celebrating the president’s election victory.

In the meantime, Odinga’s National Super Alliance (NASA) coalition has launched a “National Resistance Movement” following the rerun election to bring down the government.

NASA aims to use civil disobedience and boycotts to challenge what it considers as Kenyatta’s illegal government.

On Sunday, clashes erupted in Nairobi's Mathare slum after four bodies were found in the streets.

The discovery came just two days after three people were shot dead in a nearby suburb during clashes with police.

More than 1,100 people were killed in the 2007 presidential post-election violence.

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