22 September 2017
Is Kenya heading for a constitutional crisis?
The Kenya Supreme Court overturned the results from the August 8th elections that saw the ruling party of President Uhuru Kenyatta, who was running for a second term, win 54.2% of the vote against the opposition party of Raila Odinga. [i]The six-judge bench ruled 4-2 in favor of the petition filed by the opposition party NASA. Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga have been given a second chance to campaign and run for the Presidential seat to be held on October 31st.
Raila Odinga filed the petition with the Supreme Court seeking to annul President Uhuru Kenyatta’s re-election. In the 25, 000 page petition[ii], he accused the Electoral Commission of manipulating votes in favor of Kenyatta. The plaintiff’s (Raila Odinga) lawyer[iii] made claims that the form’s used to tally presidential results showed lack of security features and were not signed as required to ensure accountability. These anomalies and irregularities are said to have affected over 5 million votes.
As the election results have been declared null and void by the Supreme Court, claiming the IEBC failed to run a legal election, people are now questioning if the IEBC (Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission) can be trusted to organize and manage another election. [iv]Another problem stemming is the company that is providing the equipment says time is tight for them to meet the October 31st constitutional deadline as the equipment may not be ready.
Many citizens were surprised with the judgment declared by the Supreme Court because the trend of injustice in Kenya and most African countries is not prevalent, but in this case justice has been served and Odinga went on to comment that the courts have set an exceptional example for all of Africa. So what happens if the re-election does not take place on October 31st?
Tensions could rise on the days leading up to the re-run if the system does not change. Judges have already been victims of harassment and threats since the nullification of the results. Uhuru Kenyatta declared the IEBC will convene the re-run elections, but the opposition is demanding significant changes happen in the IEBC staff and electoral process. Raila Odinga’s camp has pledged to boycott if these changes are not addressed. Surely, the government must find a middle ground for the re-run to be successful and peaceful.