Two days after the hearing of a petition filed by the veteran Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga contesting President Uhuru Kenyatta’s reelection in August, the Kenyan Supreme Court has finally issued a ruling invalidating Uhuru’s victory.
Led by the Chief Justice David Maraga, the six-judge bench ruled 4-2 in favor of Mr.Odinga’s claims that the August 8 election was marred by serious irregularities and illegalities that compromised the integrity of the results. The court therefore ordered a fresh presidential poll within 60 days.
However, four of the judges, all of whom ruled in favor of the petition, did not give substantive reasons for their decision because of “time constraints”, but the Chief Justice promised to issue a detailed ruling in 21 days.
“The declaration [of Kenyatta’s win] is invalid, null and void. The first respondent [the electoral commission] failed, neglected or refused to conduct the presidential election in a manner consistent with the dictates of the constitution,” Justice Maraga said.
Celebrations amid Disappointment
Immediately after the ruling, opposition supporters took to the streets in Nairobi and other towns where Mr. Odinga enjoys the bulk of support to celebrate the victory.
In his remarks immediately after the ruling, Mr. Odinga, who was in court together with his running mate Kalonzo Musyoka and other opposition leaders, congratulated the Supreme Court on the historic ruling.
He was however adamant that the current electoral commission should not be allowed to hold any other election in Kenya.
“As it has been said by my other colleagues, we have no faith at all in the electoral commission as currently constituted. They have committed criminal acts. Most of them actually belong to jail,” Mr. Odinga said, insisting that the commissioners must be prosecuted.
But while the opposition supporters were celebrating, those who voted for President Uhuru were counting their losses, perhaps bothered by the thought of returning to the polls.
In his reaction to the ruling, Mr. Kenyatta said he respects the ruling as much as he disagrees with it. He also urged his supporters to maintain peace and to embrace their neighbors as the country heads back to the polls.
“I personally disagree with the ruling that has been made today, but I respect it,” Uhuru said in a state address.
“Take the hand of your brother, take the hand of your sister and shake it and say peace. Your neighbor will still be your neighbor regardless of whatever has happened.”
The ruling contradicts reports issued by most election observers, both local and international, including the former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who commended the Kenyan Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) for running a fairly credible election.
But the opposition contested the results that put Uhuru ahead of the eight presidential candidates with more than 54 percent of the total votes cast followed by Mr. Odinga with 46 percent.
Odinga alleged that the electoral management system was hacked and manipulated to inflate results in favor of Uhuru. Kenyans now hope the repeat election will help determine who the most preferred candidate is.