Four out of a six-member Justices of Kenya’s Supreme Court took the bull by the horn and invalidated Kenya’s presidential election, which the country’s election board declared Kenyatta the winner. It was the first of its kind in Kenya, and in Africa for a Supreme Court to annul a presidential election.
The judgment has been adjudged a bold step taken by the Justices, as well as a pattern set to sanitize entrenched electoral fraud in the continent. Over the years, presidential elections in Africa have been fraught with massive irregularities that were glossed over. Kenya’s Supreme Court judgment may signal what to further expect in future if political leaders remained unrestrained in perpetrating electoral fraud in their obsession for power.
Kenya’s Supreme Court pronouncement led by Justice David Maranga was that: “The declaration of Kenyatta’s win is invalid, null and void.” The judgment also declared that: “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”.
Friday, September 1, 2017, judgment invalidated the result of Kenya’s presidential election, due to irregularities perpetrated by the election board, and ordered a fresh election within 60 days. This has opened the way for a new race between Kenyatta and his veteran opposition leader Raila Odinga.
Kenya has history of disputed elections. In 2007, Odinga challenged the result of the presidential election in which he was declared loser. This was followed by ethnic violence and bloodshed in which more than 1,200 people were killed.
After the judgment, Odinga said: “This indeed is a very historic day for the people of Kenya. For the first time in history of African democratization a ruling has been made by a court nullifying irregular elections for the president.” Outside the court, Odinga’s supporters welcomed the judgment.
Kenyatta’s lawyer, Ahmednasir Abdullahi, said the Supreme Court decision was “very political” and the election board had “done nothing wrong.” He however said the decision of the court had to be respected.
International observers who monitored the presidential election in Kenya had reported that the election free from manipulation. The observers said they saw no sign of manipulation of voting and tallying at polling stations. Several observers said the opposition did not conduct a parallel tally and had not challenged results with complete data of their own.
Many voters in the west of Kenya, Odinga’s stronghold, and along the coast, where there is traditionally large support for the opposition, feel neglected by the central government and shut out of power.
Odinga contested the last three elections and lost each time. After each election, he claimed the votes were marred by rigging. In 2013, the Supreme Court dismissed his petition. This time, his team of lawyers focused on proving that the process for tallying and transmitting results was flawed, rather than proving how much of the vote was rigged.
Other justices in the continent should contribute to the process of having more credible elections all over Africa