Amid heightening political and ethnic tensions in the country following a disputed presidential election in August and a repeat poll in October, the Kenyan Supreme Court has upheld the re-election of President Uhuru Kenyatta on October 26.
In its verdict on Monday morning, the six-Judge bench unanimously upheld Kenyatta’s win in the repeat election, dismissing the two petitions challenging the president’s win.
“Having carefully considered the above issues [petitions], the specific prayers in each petition, as well as the constitution and the applicable laws, the court has unanimously determined that the petitions are not merited,” the Kenyan Chief Justice David Maraga said in the ruling.
Justice Maraga further declared that the election of President Kenyatta on 26th of October was held in conformity with the Kenyan constitution, but promised to issue and detailed and reasoned judgment on the same within 21 days.
The two petitions, one filed by a local NGO and the other one filed by a Kenyan human rights activist Okiya Omtatah, sought the nullification of Kenyatta’s victory arguing that the repeat election was not held in accordance with the constitution.
They both argued that the nullification of the August 8 presidential poll by the Supreme Court on the basis of massive illegalities and irregularities meant that the Kenyan Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) should have carried out a fresh election starting with fresh nominations.
They also argued that the results of the October repeat poll were not valid since the election was not held in all 290 constituencies as per the constitution. The IEBC was forced to postpone the election in 29 constituencies in the Nyanza region after rowdy area residents prevented the delivery of electoral materials to polling stations in the area.
The people of Nyanza, a stronghold of the opposition, heeded the call by their leader Raila Odinga not to participate in the repeat poll citing collusion between the IEBC and President Kenyatta’s party the Jubilee Party.
Swearing In Amid Tensions
With the Supreme Court ruling, President Kenyatta will be sworn in for his second and final term in office on Tuesday, November 28 as per the law. According to the Kenyan Constitution, the swearing in ceremony of the President must take place within seven days after the court ruling.
But the Supreme Court ruling comes at a time when there is increasing political and ethnic tension in some parts of the country, with ethnic clashes already happening in some parts of the Kenyan capital Nairobi.
The opposition leader has vowed to continue with the protests, with some members of his party National Super Alliance (NASA) threatening to swear him in as their President.
While supporters of President Kenyatta are out in the streets celebrating the Supreme Court ruling, opposition supporters, especially in Kisumu town, are engaging the police in running battles as they protest the decision.