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Kenya's defeated Odinga to take poll dispute to top court

© AFP | Odinga, pictured arriving for his news conference on Wednesday, vowed to take the path of peaceful dissent after presidential elections that he says were rigged

NAIROBI (AFP) - 

Opposition leader Raila Odinga said Wednesday he would take his claims that Kenya's presidential election was rigged to the Supreme Court, after previously refusing to do so, and vowed to protest peacefully.

"We have now decided to move to the Supreme Court and lay before the world the making of a computer-generated leadership," the 72-year-old leader of the National Super Alliance (NASA) coalition told journalists.

He also called for peaceful forms of protest against the victory of his opponent President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Odinga recalled that the rights to demonstrate, strike and carry out acts of civil disobedience were enshrined in the constitution.

"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," he said.

Days of sometimes violent street protests, crushed by police, have left at least 17 people dead -- among them two children -- since the declaration of Kenyatta's victory on Friday.

The bloodshed has spurred traumatic memories of the clashes that followed the country's presidential vote in 2007, when a wave of politically-motivated tribal violence left over 1,100 dead.

Odinga called for peaceful demonstrations against the "death of democracy".

"Kenyans have no need to use violence to achieve justice," he said.

"This country is now divided between those prepared to live under autocracy and the forces of freedom and democracy."

- 'Democracy's slaughter' -

Odinga has charged that the August 8 election was rigged in favour of Kenyatta through the hacking and manipulation of the electronic vote counting system, claims he repeated Wednesday.

He accused the election commission (IEBC) of "illegally releasing unverified results to create the expectation of an Uhuru Kenyatta victory" and claimed that the results had been hacked "because an algorithm had been introduced to rig the outcome", an allegation he will have to prove in court.

Odinga, who had previously ruled out a court appeal, said he was only going to the judges after civil society groups -- among them the Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) and the Africa Centre for Governance (AfriCOG) -- were threatened with closure by the government.

He said NASA was taking its appeal to the courts despite consistent rulings in the government's favour during a series of pre-election petitions.

"Our decision to go to court constitutes a second chance for the Supreme Court. The court can use this chance to redeem itself or, like in 2013, it can compound the problems we face as a nation," he said.

Odinga challenged the results of the 2013 election in court, and lost. He also claimed to have been rigged out of the 2007 poll, a claim accepted by many observers.

"For the third straight election in a row, the voice of the people has been stilled, and for the third time in a decade, the candidate who lost the election has been declared President," he said.

"No one should believe, and especially not those behind this election fraud theft, that Kenyans are sheep who will willingly go along with democracy's slaughter."

© 2017 AFP