Kenya’s General Election Supreme Court ruling: What you need to know

Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga.
Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga.

Kenya’s Supreme Court have sat for two days during which it heard allegations of fraud by Raila Odinga’s opposition NASA (National Super Alliance) party regarding the election victory which handed victory to President Uhuru Kenyatta following the August 8 poll.

Tomorrow (Friday 1 September), the court’s seven judges will decide if the election result should stand or whether it should be annulled and rerun.

What happened on Kenya election day 2017

On a calm election day, more than 15.5 million Kenyans voted for their chosen president, governors, senators, parliamentarians, local assembly members and women’s representatives.

International observers overwhelmingly hailed the elections a success, but as initial votes were being counted in the early hours of August 9, the opposition cried foul. They claimed hacking and rigging were resulting in a false tally which favoured current President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Two days of demonstrations and riots in the traditional opposition strongholds of the Nairobi slims and Kisumu followed the August 11 declaration of Kenyatta’s victory with 54.27 percent of the votes. 44.74 percent voted for Odinga, according to published results.

While the resulting violence fell far short of the politically-motivated ethnic violence that left more than 1,100 dead following the disputed 2007 election, at least 21 people, including a baby and a 9 year old girl, lost their lives.

What do the opposition want?

The opposition party have asked the Supreme Court to annul the result of the presidential election. They filed the petition just hours before the constitutional deadline on August 18, with opposition lawyers denouncing a “litany” of irregularities. The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) was accused of falsifying results during the several days it took to publish polling station and constituency tally sheets on its website.

The Supreme Court had ordered the opposition lawyers should be granted access to IEBC computer servers, documentation, voter identification kits and GPS data. Despite the failure of the IEBC to abide by all the orders of the court, opposition lawyer James Orengo has claimed the information gathered can prove the fraud allegations which he alleges affected more than five million votes.

While it denied rigging the vote, the IEBC acknowledged there were some “inadvertent errors”, but claim these would not have affected the outcome of the vote.

What will happen when the verdict is given?

There are two possible outcomes on Friday. Whatever the judges decide is final and cannot be appealed.

If the Supreme Court validate the election, Kenyatta will be sworn-in a week later for a second five-year term.

However, if they decide the result should be annulled, the IEBC will be given 60 days in which to organise a fresh vote.

Kenya’s short-term stability could depend on the response of the losing party’s supporters, which will be influenced by the perceived quality and impartiality of the judges’ ruling.



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