Kenya's SC upholds Kenyatta election win

Nairobi
20 Nov 2017

Kenya's Supreme Court today dismissed two petitions to overturn the country's October 26 presidential election re-run, validating the poll victory of President Uhuru Kenyatta. "The court has unanimously determined that the petitions are not merited. As a consequence, the presidential election of 26 October is hereby upheld as is the election of the third respondent," said Chief Justice David Maraga, referring to Kenyatta. The ruling paves the way for Kenyatta to be sworn in on November 28, bringing to a close what has been a divisive and often deadly election process. Maraga had in September annulled an August 8 election due to "irregularities and illegalities", in a historic decision hailed across the globe as an opportunity to deepen Kenyan democracy. However, the ruling, a rare victory for veteran opposition leader Raila Odinga, only deepened acrimony and protests that have left 52 dead -- mostly at the hands of police -- since the first election.
Accusing the IEBC elections commission of failing to make fundamental reforms to improve the vote, Odinga withdrew from the October ballot which he urged his followers to boycott. In the run-up to the vote, a top election official fled the country, saying the poll would not be credible, and IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati himself said he could not guarantee a free and fair election.
Election day was marred by chaos in opposition strongholds, with polling stations unable to open in 25 constituencies. The boycott handed Kenyatta a landslide victory of 98 percent, although voter turnout was only 39 percent. This time, Odinga and his National Super Alliance (NASA) coalition did not go to court to challenge the second election, but a former politician and two rights activists did. They pointed to procedural questions, the toxic democratic environment, and Chebukati's own questioning of the process. However the six-judge bench dismissed the petitions in a matter of minutes.
In a statement, Odinga said the ruling "did not come as a surprise", nor did it alter his opposition to a government he regards as illegitimate. "It was a decision taken under duress. We do not condemn the court, we sympathise with it," he said. News of the court's decision sparked celebrations in Kenyatta's strongholds. But while many will be breathing a sigh of relief that the four-month election process is drawing to an end, tensions remain high and it was unclear how Odinga's supporters would react to Kenyatta being sworn in. (AFP)