Markets fell on Monday after Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga formally challenged the results of this month’s presidential election at the country’s Supreme Court.
The Nairobi Stock Exchange (NSE) shed Sh43 billion to close trading at Sh2.23 trillion — the lowest level since Kenyans went to the polls on August 9.
It could be weeks before a new President is sworn in, escalating a political contest that has thrown investors into uncertainty.
The shilling also dipped to a new low against the dollar to trade at Sh119.75, having depreciated from Sh113.13 at the start of the year and Sh104.44 at the end of March 2020.
The country’s dollar-denominated government bonds were down as much as 2.0 cents on the dollar at 6.18 p.m., with the 2048 maturity trading at 68.5 cents, according to Tradeweb data captured by Reuters agency.
Last week, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) declared Deputy President William Ruto had won the election by a slim margin, but four out of the seven election commissioners dissented, saying the tallying of results had not been transparent.
The IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati declared Dr Ruto the winner with 50.49 percent of the vote against Odinga's 48.5 percent.
In the 72-page petition, Mr Odinga is asking the court to nullify the vote's outcome on several grounds, including a mismatch between the turnout figures and the result, and alleges the electoral commission failed to tally ballots from 27 constituencies, rendering the result unverifiable and unaccountable.
"We take some comfort that nobody in Kenya is calling for violence or storming the parliament in Nairobi, but it is really a country that needs to put the election behind it," Carl Ross, a partner at investment firm GMO, told Reuters on Monday.
He said investors had hoped there would be a more obvious winner in the presidential vote.
"It (Kenya) is a strong, vibrant democracy and that is a good thing. But when countries are apparently split right down the middle it makes governing them difficult."
Mr Odinga has urged the Supreme Court to declare him the President-elect, claiming he won the August 9 General Election.
He reckons that he was robbed of victory after the IEBC failed to factor in votes from 27 constituencies that were not declared and verified before Dr Ruto was declared the victor on August 15. He further claims that the IEBC did not factor in voters who were identified and voted manually in the final tally.
“..The 2nd respondent (Chebukati) proceeded to unilaterally declare the final result of the presidential election without tallying and verification by the 1st respondent of the result from 27 constituencies and whose outcome or count had an effect on the final result and outcome of the presidential election,” the petition states.
He says he will prove that the result declared by Mr Chebukati is fraudulent and void because his main rival, Dr Ruto did not attain the constitutional threshold of 50 percent plus one of all votes cast.
“The petitioners contend and will prove that the irregularities and errors in the 2022 presidential election were not minor or administrative or occasioned by human imperfection,” he argues, adding that they will demonstrate that the presidential election was conducted with a premeditated intent in order to secure a fraudulent result.
Mr Odinga says votes recorded in physical copies in 42 polling stations allegedly differ from those issued to agents, in Forms 34A and the IEBC portal.
Most of the stations in breach are in Kiambu and Bomet counties where votes were allegedly inflated in favour of Dr Ruto and one in Lurambi in Kakamega County, where Mr Odinga’s votes were reduced by 100, according to the petition.
He further says that dissent from the four commissioners is a pointer to the irregularities and fraud.The IEBC, chairman Chebukati and Dr Ruto have four days to respond to Mr Odinga's claims through court filings.
The court will next conduct a status conference with all parties to define the hearing schedule and ground rules. The Constitution requires judges to issue their decision within 14 days of the lawsuit being filed.
In 2017, the Supreme Court overturned the election result and ordered a re-run, which Odinga boycotted, saying he had no faith in the electoral commission. Now, he also wants Mr Chebukati declared unfit to hold office.
Mr Odinga says the IEBC chairman refused to share and circulate the final presidential results with the candidates’ chief agents, observers, the media and even fellow members of the commission before making the declaration.
He further claims that there were inconsistencies in voter turnout as captured in the Kenya Integrated Elections Management System (Kiems) kits or the digital register and Form 34C— the final presidential vote tally.
The petition says the voters captured in the kits were 14,446,779 against 14,213,137 captured in Form 34C.
Mr Odinga says the IEBC is unable to account for over 250,000 votes that were cast in the election, excluding those captured manually.
“Nonetheless, there is a variance of 140,028 votes between the total number of votes as recorded in Form 34C and the total number of votes identified using the Kiems kits,” the petition filed at the Supreme Court states.