Kenyan Election Overturned by Supreme Court
Kenyan Supreme Court Overturns August Election
Samuel Valk-Politics Contributor
BREAKING-In Nairobi yesterday, the Kenyan Supreme Court has overturned the election results of the 8 August elections. The Court cited “irregularities” with the voting procedures claiming that the elections were not held within the bounds of the Kenyan Constitution. The results of the election are null and void with new elections to be held within 60 days, in accordance with the judgement. The Court claimed the Electoral Commission had acted irregularly. However, full details of the judgement will most likely not be out for about three weeks. This is the first election result in all of Africa to be overturned by the highest court of the country.
The 8 August elections were held between two candidates elected by a two-round voting system, with some devolution to the counties where a majority of the counties need at least 25% of the vote for a candidate. It is an instant two round. Essentially, any candidate must past-the-post in the counties to become president on election day in order to qualify, even if he receives more votes than a candidate who makes it through to qualify. The first of the two candidates who qualified on 8 August were incumbent president Uhuru Kenyatta, the son of Jomo Kenyatta, the first president of Kenya. The other candidate was Raila Odinga, the son of Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, Kenya’s first Vice President. Kenyatta was declared the winner after three days of counting, with 54% of the vote. Odinga refused to concede and challenged the results in the Court.
Odinga, who brought the suit about, was very excited about the results. “It is now clear that the entire [electoral commission] is rotten. It is clear that the real election results were never shared with Kenyans. Someone must take responsibility. We won the elections and we will win them again!” His people and supporters are already mobilising for the next election. This is not Odinga’s first time in the Court, however. Odinga is a perennial candidate who ran against Kenyatta in 2013. In 2013, Odinga lost by less than 8,000 votes. The Court that time however dismissed his claims of irregularities.
Kenyatta was more malaised. Calling for peace after the ruling, he said “[it is] important to respect the rule of law even if you disagree with the Supreme Court ruling. Your neighbour will still be your neighbour, regardless of what has happened... My primary message today to every single Kenyan is peace. Let us be people of peace.” Later in the day, he stated that he would win again and his agenda would be elected by the people once again. When campaigning today in Nairobi, he called the judges “Wakora,” a Swahili word for “crooks” and said that a close eye must be kept on the judges and the court. He also stated that the court should be wary as they are still dealing with the sitting president, not the president-elect. However, he also said that the election must come first.
According to international observers, including the EU, US, and UN, the 8 August elections were held freely. They all urged Odinga to concede, stating no major fraud had occurred. Former US Secretary of State John Kerry was the head of the US Mission NGO that oversaw the elections in Kenya. However, even though observers urged Odinga to concede, many have said that the ruling proves Kenya at least is willing to follow rule of law and an independent judiciary. The biggest loser of the situation it seems is the electoral commission, whose reputation is now tarnished from such a damning judgement against it. It will most likely be determined it should change in some form before this next election. Only time will tell if Kenya can make it through this next election without major issues and only then will we know if the fledgling African democracy can survive its own institutions.