The ruling party and the opposition seem to be preparing for the possibility of another Supreme Court showdown by hiring lawyers exclusively as constituency chief agents on August 8.
The lawyers have been recruited to document any electoral irregularities that will form evidence at each constituency in case the contest heads to the courts as it did in 2013. It follows the landmark Court of Appeal ruling on June 23 which made results announced at the constituencies final and cannot be changed in Nairobi.
With opinion polls suggesting a close race between President Uhuru Kenyatta and NASA challenger Raila Odinga, the two are going flat out to seal possible rigging loopholes.
To better describe the roles of the lawyers, a top Jubilee official said they are volunteers that will play an advisory role to grassroots representatives. He made it clear that they were not engaged as party agents but as mischief eliminators.
“We have lawyers in the whole country who are Jubilee supporters. We want them to volunteer to be able to verify that what the returning officers are announcing is what is coming from the polling stations,” said the official.
The official said that whenever the lawyers point out anomalies or flaws, they will not sign results declaration forms.
“Since everybody has their agents and is sending results from polling centers, we will also be sending them and they will be cross-checking what the returning officer has received from the presiding officer.”
“That way, if he announces the correct results, everybody will be happy. But if they try to play with those numbers, we will not sign, and you see everybody must sign unless advised by our legal team.”
An unnamed official at NASA’s presidential campaign secretariat said the legal strategy both parties are adopting is crucial since the presidential elections are now held at the constituency level.
“There is a likelihood that if there is a legal challenge, you only challenge the results of a specific constituency.”
This will ensure a higher threshold of evidence, as whoever challenges the presidential election must glean empirical evidence from a particular constituency.
Following the 2013 election, Raila petitioned Uhuru’s narrow victory but was dismissed by the Willy Mutunga-led Supreme Court due to a lack of water-tight evidence to prove his claim of rigging.