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Kenya's Supreme Court begins election dispute hearing.

Outgoing Prime Minister Raila Odinga, disputing the outcome of Kenya's presidential election, kicked off his case at the Supreme Court on Wednesday challenging the electoral body's handling of the polls.

Odinga's lawyers challenged the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) stating that it bore the burden of proof - a requirement that it must itself prove that it conducted a free and fair election.

Odinga wants the Supreme Court to declare that an announcement that made Uhuru Kenyatta the president-elect was null and void because he was a beneficiary of a flawed election and that votes were inflated.

Odinga's lawyers argued that sections of Kenyan laws were violated when the IEBC resorted to manual systems of voter verification.

According to Odinga's lead lawyers, George Oraro and Kethi Kilonzo, representing the Civil Society challenging the vote, the elections were held in a manner against the constitution which provided safeguards.

"The burden on us is to provide a prima facie case and they (IEBC) have to prove they carried out the election in a free, transparent and verifiable manner," Oraro said in his opening remarks.

Should the Supreme Court judges find fault with the conduct of the polls, a new vote could be ordered within 60 days of the ruling and should it uphold the vote outcome, Kenyatta would sail through as fourth President.

Petitioners challenging Kenyatta's victory said the voters register was faulty and because the Information Technology infrastructure allowed room for non-registered voters to participate in the polls.

Kenyatta's victory is being challenged on the basis that it failed to meet the legal requirement of 50 plus one vote. Odinga requires to demonstrate or seek to invalidate just 8,000 votes to deny Kenyatta that win.

"You should consider the margin above 50%. Kenyans are divided into two equal numbers awaiting the decision of the Supreme Court," Oraro stated. He said tallying of the Presidential votes was skewed to achieve a certain result.

Earlier, Kilonzo, said a verification of the various forms used by the IEBC to file results back to its national tallying centre showed 13.5 million voters against 12.3 million voters originally listed as participants.

The evidence produced in court showed a trend of reducing the votes cast in Odinga's favour and adding the same to Kenyatta's tally. Similar trends were shown in favour of the six other candidates.

"We have done our own tabulation, it may be wrong, but you will do yours. The number of votes in 100 polling stations differ from those on the form 36," Kilonzo told Court.

Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto, were not required to respond immediately, but would make their responses during a 10-hour-long sitting on Thursday.

Odinga's lawyers have insisted the process lacked a credible voter register. The team stated the electoral body failed to comply with the requirement to properly screen all voters through an electronic voter identification system.

The Odinga team also alleged opening up the vote to non-registered voters and the IEBC unilateral alterations to the list made it impossible to tell who would benefit from such alterations and that indeed, Odinga was a victim of such a failure.

Hearing continues on Thursday with final ruling due Saturday.

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Publication:African Manager
Date:Mar 28, 2013
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