Judges annul Kenya presidential election

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Kenya’s Supreme Court has annulled the result of the country’s recent presidential election.

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Citing irregularities, the Supreme Court said a new poll should be held within 60 days.

The election commission had declared incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta the winner of last month’s election.

But Kenya opposition candidate Raila Odinga claimed that the commission’s IT system had been hacked to manipulate the results.

Chief Justice David Maraga said the 8 August election had not been “conducted in accordance with the constitution” and declared it “invalid, null and void”.

He said the verdict was backed by four of the six Supreme Court judges.

The announcement drew cheers from opposition supporters both inside and outside the courtroom.

Justice Maraga said the election commission had failed “to conduct the presidential election in a manner consistent with the dictates of the constitution”.

He did not elaborate on any irregularities, but said the court would provide details in a full judgment within 21 days.

Dissenting judges said that the Nasa opposition alliance – which had petitioned the Supreme Court – failed to prove claims that the polls had been rigged.

International election monitors from the EU, the African Union and the US said there had been no major fraud on election day and urged opposition candidate Raila Odinga to concede.

The election sparked days of sporadic protests, in which at least 28 people were killed. The vote had raised fears of major political violence – as was the case after a disputed poll in 2007.

Mr Odinga said the ruling marked “a historic day for the people of Kenya and by extension for the people of the continent of Africa”.

He added that he had “no faith at all in the electoral commission as currently constituted” and called for the prosecution of its members.

A lawyer for President Kenyatta said the decision had been “very political” but had to be respected.

Raila Odinga will feel vindicated against accusations that he was just being a bad loser in challenging President Kenyatta’s win.

However, this historic decision is a massive indictment of the electoral commission. It is therefore no surprise that the opposition Nasa coalition is now calling for a new team to manage the next elections.

This is also a setback for the international, and some local, election observers, who profusely praised the election as free, fair and credible.

People will be watching for the reaction of former US Secretary of State John Kerry, who was the head of the mission for US NGO The Carter Centre, whose positive assessment of the election was used in court.

Regardless of the winners and losers following the ruling, this is a proud moment for Kenya. The litigation and debate on the merits of the election was done at the Supreme Court and not on the streets.

Chief Justice Maraga said it best in his opening statement: “The greatness of a nation lies in its fidelity to the constitution and the strict adherence to the rule of law.”

Source: BBC

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