Uhuru-Spirit News


September 01, 2017 | Uhuruspirit

Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga

Kenya's Supreme Court has nullified President Uhuru Kenyatta's election win last month and called for new elections within 60 days, shocking a country that had been braced for further protests by opposition supporters.

The decision to cancel the vote result, the first of its kind in Kenya’s history, sets up a new race for the presidency between Kenyatta and veteran opposition leader Raila Odinga.

The six-judge bench ruled Friday 4-2 in favor of the petition filed by opposition candidate Raila Odinga. He has claimed that the electronic voting results were hacked into and manipulated in favor of Kenyatta, who had won a second term with 54 percent of the vote.

“The declaration (of Kenyatta’s win) is invalid, null and void,” said Judge David Maranga, announcing the verdict backed by four out of the six judges.

“The first respondent (the election board) failed neglected or refused to conduct the presidential election in a manner consistent with the dictates of the constitution.”

Odinga's lawyer had asked the court to invalidate Kenyatta's win, saying a scrutiny of the forms used to tally the votes had anomalies that affected nearly 5 million votes.

Kenya's electoral commission had said there was a hacking attempt but it failed. International election observers had said they saw no interference with the vote.

Odinga, a longtime opposition candidate and the son of Kenya's first vice president, had unsuccessfully challenged the results of the 2013 vote.

Odinga, a longtime opposition candidate and the son of Kenya's first vice president, has contested the last three elections and lost each time. Each time, he has claimed the votes were marred by rigging. In 2013, the Supreme Court dismissed his petition.

This time, his team focused on proving that the process for tallying and transmitting results was flawed, rather than proving how much of the vote was rigged.

Kenya had been braced for further protests Friday as the Supreme Court prepared to rule on the opposition's challenge, with police deployed to sensitive areas of the capital, Nairobi.

Security was tight around the courthouse with armed police and barricaded streets. Human rights groups have said police killed at least 24 people in unrest that followed the Aug. 8 vote.

"This day is the D-day. We are going to know who is the president and we are very confident that the Supreme Court is going to give us our president," said one Nairobi resident, Felix Achieng, ahead of the ruling.

Local newspaper headlines declared Friday a "Date With Destiny." Many shops in the capital remained closed.

Unease around the election rose when the official who oversaw the electronic voting system was found tortured and killed days before the vote. But the unrest following last month's election was far calmer than the post-election violence a decade ago that left more than 1,000 people dead.

Meanwhile, following the nullification of the election, Odinga has said that his coalition would push for the removal of the electoral commission.

He said the officials should be prosecuted "for the crime they committed against the people of Kenya."

“I am happy to be Kenyan today, It is a historic day for the people of Kenya, and by extension the people of Africa,” said Odinga.

It was the first time in the history of African democratization that “a ruling has been made by a court nullifying irregular presidential elections,” he said. “This is a precedent-setting ruling.”

- with AP/Reuters

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