Judy Chebet

Phone: +254 (732) 188 636 / 637

After Kenya went for elections on 8th August 2017, the Supreme Court presented a verdict that will go in to the history of Africa. It declared the Presidential Election 2017 null and void.

During the general elections in Kenya, Kenyans voted for six different offices, amongst others the President, Members of Parliament and County Governments. Within one week the former President, Uhuru Kenyatta, who was looking at a second five-year term, has been declared winner having received 54 % of the votes. He would have been declared and sworn in as the President soon after. However, his long-term opponent, Raila Odinga, challenged the results at the Supreme Court, which declared the election null and void on 1st September, 2017.

The Kenyan Government declared the election day a public holiday, to enable the citizens to travel to their registered polling station, which took many people back to their home towns. After the intense campaigning period, Kenyans were looking forward to see the results of their efforts. When the official results were finally declared in the end of the week, people peacefully celebrated the whole night.

It has thus been an immense surprise and remarkable demonstration of democracy for the whole of Africa that the Nasa party went to Court showing their trust in the legal system and procedures. An Electoral Petition is provided for in Article 140 of the Constitution, 2010. Following the Judgement, fresh presidential elections will be undertaken on the 18th October, 2017 with the two main opponents being the only candidates out of the initial eight candidates. The other elections remain valid as they have not been challenged.

The Supreme Court declared that “the Presidential Election […] was not conducted in accordance with the Constitution and the applicable law rendering the declared result invalid, null and void” and “an order is hereby issued directing the [electoral body] to organize and conduct a fresh Presidential Election”. The Supreme Court delivered its findings in a summarized judgement and stated that it will deliver its detailed judgement within 21 days. The determinations of the Supreme Court so far state that “the court was satisfied that the [Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC)] committed irregularities, inter alia, in the transmission of results”. The Supreme Court consists of seven judges, of which two judges are dissenting. It is important to note that the court stated that “no evidence of misconduct on the 3rd Respondent”, being the President, Uhuru Kenyatta, was found.

The President, Uhuru Kenyatta, is the leader of the Jubilee Party and has a long history with his rival, Raila Odinga, leader of the Nasa Party, who has been a candidate for his fourth time. The Supreme Court has been faced with a similar petition during the last elections in 2013 and denied the petition.

The whole world had their eyes on the elections and has been awaiting the results with tension in light of the violence after the 2007 elections. A statement from the German Embassy in Nairobi has been released commending “the opposition for having chosen this peaceful path and the Kenyan people for having followed the legal proceedings with both patience and confidence”. The Joint Statement by Heads of Mission stated that “the transparent legal process and the parties’ respect for the Court’s decision reflect the strength of Kenya’s democracy”.

We are glad to report that the 2013 and 2017 elections were peaceful and are awaiting the Court’s reasoning and fresh elections with great interest.

Anna Klose

21 September 2017