2 September 2017
By Ugonnabo Ngwu
In what qualifies as the continent’s first and a watershed, the Supreme Court in Kenya on Friday nullified the August 8 presidential election won by incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta, basing its ruling on alleged irregularities.
The apex court of the East African country consequently ordered that a re-run be conducted within 60 days
Delivering the verdict, Chief Justice David Maraga declared that “the presidential election held on August 8 was not conducted in accordance with the constitution,” denouncing same as invalid, null and void.
Maraga upheld this as the majority decision, but stated that two other members of the six-man panel of judges dissented.
The ruling favoured Raila Odinga, head of the country’s main opposition who had challenged the electoral commission’s announcement of President Kenyatta as the winner last month.
He had claimed that the electronic voting results were hacked into and manipulated in favour of Kenyatta, who had won a second term with 54 per cent of the votes cast.
Odinga’s lawyer had asked the court to invalidate Kenyatta’s victory, 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, even as international election observers had said they saw no interference with the vote.
But while not placing any blame on Kenyatta or his party in its ruling on Friday, the Supreme Court held that the electoral commission “failed, neglected or refused to conduct the presidential election in a manner consistent with the dictates of the constitution”.
In a televised address shortly after the ruling, Kenyatta accepted the court decision out of respect, calling for “peace, peace, peace”
He expressed regrets that “six people have decided they will go against the will of the people” but would not dispute the judgment.
The President said “the court has made its decision. We respect it. We don’t agree with it. And again, I say peace … peace, peace, peace.
“That is the nature of democracy,” he added.
On his part, Odinga, who has contested and lost the last three elections in the country, said the court had set an “exceptional example for all of Africa”.
He said further, “Our judiciary now knows they have the power.
“We thank the supreme court for standing up for the truth.”