Top Stories / 2017 Elections
Friday, 01 Sep 2017 14:15 EATjonyando@kenyafreepress.com
The Supreme Court today nullified the August 8 presidential election in which the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission declared President Uhuru Kenyatta as the winner over opposition leader Raila Odinga.
By a majority ruling of four judges, the court declared that, "The presidential election was not conducted in accordance to the Constitution.The results are null and void," and called for fresh elections to be held within 60 days as stipulated by the constitution.
Chief Justice David Maraga read the determination of the majority which included himself, deputy chief justice Philomena Mwilu, and Justices Smokin Wanjala and Isaac Lenaola. He said the IEBC "failed, neglected or refused to conduct election in keeping with laws." "We were satisfied that the election was not conducted as the constitution dictates," he said.
However, he said the court found no evidence of misconduct on the part of President Kenyatta, who had been named by the petitioner as the third respondent after the IEBC and its chairman Wafula Chebukati, respectively.
Justices Njoki Ndung'u and Jackton Ojwang dissented. Justices Ojwang' and Ndung'u dissented against the majority decision, with the former saying the election was conducted in accordance with constitution, while the latter said the petitioner's case did not meet the evidentiary threshold for invalidating the result of the election.
The text of both decisions will be released within 21 days as the 14-day period granted by the constitution for determining the decision was not sufficient for the judges to finish their writing.
Tension that had been building in Kenya ahead of the ruling dissipated as large sections of the country rose up in celebration (see different story). The government had strategically deployed heavy police contingents in towns where Mr Odinga enjoys high support, in particular the Kisumu town where his Luo tribesmen constitute the bulk of the population.
As the ruling reverberated across the country, the whole of Africa was also in celebration as the Kenyan court had set new standards for democracy on a continent where incumbent presidents hardly preside over fair elections, and judges generally endorse the rigged outcomes. It also put scrunity on election
The ruling also put under scrutiny the role of international election observers who endorsed it even before the IEBC announced the outcome. Former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and former South African president Thabo Mbeki, two formerly respected statesmen in the eyes of many Kenyans, were under fire on social media as Kenyans praised their Supreme Court.
The two were singled out in comments by respected academics, opposition activists and bloggers who said they had fully endorsed illegalities in the hope that no Kenyan institution would be courageous enough to unearth the fraud in the election. Both were approached by opposition candidate Odinga ahead of the announcement of the results, only for them to appeal to the veteran leader to concede defeat.
Secretary Kerry had headed a large observer mission from the Carter Centre while President Mbeki headed the African Union mission. Other renowned leaders including former Ghanaian president John John Mahama also participated in the observation, but they had apparently not inspired as much confidence as did Mr Kerry and President Mbeki.
As the Supreme Court case filed by Odinga wore on and increasing evidence came to the surface, foreign media had also begun to put Mr Kerry in particular under the spotlight, with the respected American publication, The New York Review of Books, accusing him of abetting rigging in the belief that President Kenyatta was better for U.S. interests in Kenya than Mr Odinga.
Secretary Kerry's endorsement of the election result amid rampant fraud seems to have inspired several pro-democracy experts in the United States who have helped the cause of the opposition by pouring over the data from IEBC and revealing shortcomings. "After NASA submitted its petition, a team of American experts led by University of Michigan Professor of Statistics and Political Science Walter Mebane volunteered to conduct a forensic analysis of the results," reported The New York Review of Books.
"Results that have been tampered with show patterns and Mebane’s computer program identified over half a million fraudulent votes in this manner—almost certainly an underestimate of the true number," the publication wrote.
The NASA camp is expected to ride on the Supreme Court ruling, which was largely unexpected given the timidity of Kenyan courts. "Despite the growing evidence that the election was a fraud, Kenya’s notoriously corrupt judiciary may dismiss the case.
"When Odinga disputed Kenyatta’s victory after a similarly flawed election in 2013, the justices ruled that the election should stand, even though results from much of the country are not available even now, and probably never will be," The New York Review of Books had written. It seems the ruling has brought a breath of fresh air into the Kenyan judiciary.