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Kenyan Supreme Court annuls presidential elections
September 12, 2017, 12:05 pm
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Last week the Supreme Court in Kenya annulled results of the presidential election that saw incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta win by a margin of over 1.4 million votes. The opposition National Super Alliance (NASA), led by presidential challenger Raila Odinga, had contested the election outcome in court arguing that the vote was fraudulent.

On Friday, the six-judge bench of the Supreme Court ruled in a 4 – 2 decision that the final results were “invalid, null and void” as the elections were not conducted in accordance with dictates of the constitution. The court ordered the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) a re-election to be held within 60 days.

It is the first time in Africa that a court has overturned results of an election, and it also brings into question the legitimacy of self-appointed ‘international election monitors’. Observer missions from the African Union, the European Union and the United States, including a team from the Carter Center headed by former US Secretary of State John Kerry, had given their resounding approval to the election process, calling it “free and fair”.

In response to the verdict, President Kenyatta said he personally disagrees with the decision of the Supreme Court to nullify his re-election but accepts and respects it. In his address to the nation on Friday, President Kenyatta said his win was a result of "the will of the people" and he called on Kenyans to maintain peace. However, later, at a meeting of his Jubilee Alliance party supporters, he assailed the judges calling them “crooks” and vowed to defeat Raila Odinga and the NASA at the next ballot.

For his part, Mr. Odinga, who had lost presidential elections in 2007 and 2013, and had unsuccessfully challenged the results in court on both occasions, described the court decision to annul the elections as historic. In an address outside the court premises after the ruling was delivered, the presidential challenger said the annulment was a “very historic day for the people of Kenya and by extension for the people of the continent of Africa”. He also faulted the IEBC for conducting a “shambolic polls”, and called for disbanding the commission and its secretariat and forming a new election body before the next polls.

The court ruling has now set the stage for a contentious new race between the two veteran politicians, in a country that continues to be riven mainly along ethnic and economic lines.

 

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