Kenya’s Supreme Court decision to invalidate last month’s presidential election sparked cheers and chanting in the streets of Nairobi and across the nation. The move also drew the attention of analysts who praised it as historic and an example for not just Africa as a continent but also for the rest of the world. But analysts think that the 60-day ultimatum within which a fresh election must be conducted will spread tension, fear, anxiety and restraint among the leaders and the citizens. Whatever happens, nevertheless, the credibility and reliability of the election will be more important than anything else. The team also opined that the court’s decision will have an effect on the next vote and also determine the people who will be in charge of the rerun.
The Supreme Court on Friday asked for a rerun of the controversial presidential election held last month. The action shocked many within and outside the shores of the country as it is the first verified time in Africa a country has nullified the vote of a sitting president.
Chief Justice David Maraga who gave the verdict said a majority decision by the panel of six judges, with two dissenting, found that President Uhuru Kenyatta “was not validly elected”, rendering the result “invalid, null and void”.
Justice Maraga said the election commission had failed “to conduct the presidential election in a manner consistent with the dictates of the Constitution. According to him, the verdict was backed by four of the six Supreme Court judges. The court ruling did not attribute any blame to President Kenyatta’s party or campaign. Rather, the Judge blamed the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) had been responsible for “irregularities and illegalities” which “affected the integrity of the election”.
The Opposition’s Stance
Veteran opposition leader Raila Odinga and his National Super Alliance (Nasa) had disagreed with the result claiming the system transmitting the votes had been hacked.
The alliance also said that forms from polling stations that were supposed to support the electronic results were not being uploaded. The court’s announcement saw jubilations from opposition supporters both inside and outside the courtroom.
Mr Mutiga said the ruling “means Kenya, one of the most open societies in Africa, is gradually maturing as a democracy”. He added that the “opposition can now go to court and expect to be served with justice”.
In a statement on Friday, Justus Nyang’aya, country director for Amnesty International Kenya, said the decision “demonstrates the independence of Kenya’s judiciary and sets an example for the rest of the world”.
He also encouraged all parties to comply with the judgement,” calling “on the police to observe restraint in their handling of any celebrations or protests” that may follow.
While the ruling “upholds the Constitution” adopted in 2010, “it will put a lot of question marks on the international observers, who have massively said the election day went well,” an African diplomat told AFP on condition of anonymity.
Observers are worried that the ruling could result in a repeat of 2007 when violence erupted across the country after the election. They also think that some IEBC officials might be going home after the whole drama.
In 2013 Veteran opposition leader, Odinga took his grievances to court after he lost to President Uhuru Kenyatta but eventually lost.
In 2007, over 1,100 people lost their lives in the post-election violence. Odinga, a former prime minister, lost that election, one of three defeats at the polls before this vote. He lost the 2013 vote to Kenyatta and challenged the results on a similar claim of vote-tampering. The Supreme Court ruled against him.
We all hope that the leaders will at least show a sense of maturity in dealing with this sensitive issue to avoid a repeat of 2007 event.