The Supreme Court in Kenya has laid out the reasons on why it declared the elections held on August 8th, null and void.
The court accepted the petitioner’s claim that the election commission’s IT system was infiltrated and the data was compromised.
The elections in Kenya was held on August 8th, 2017. It was one of the most hotly contested elections in the country’s modern history. The two main contenders were the current President Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga, who lost to Kenyatta in the previous election. The region used to be a one-party country till 1991. The incumbent was seeking a second and final term of the office.
Kenyan elections have often been marred by violence and the latest election was no exception. Over 180,000 members of the law enforcement had been deployed to the streets to prevent violent outbreaks. However, the day after the elections were held, conflicts erupted. Human rights groups have said that at least 24 people were killed as a result. Kenyatta was declared the winner, but the opposition said that the elections were rigged by the government.
Kenya’s Chief Justice David Maraga announced in a ruling that the election was null and void. The judges who presided said, “[The election commission] failed, neglected or refused to conduct the presidential election in a manner consistent with the dictates of the Constitution.”
According to the BBC, it is likely that this is the first time in Africa where the court has ruled in favor of the opposition regarding election fraud.
Kenyatta has expressed his displeasure of the court’s ruling and called the judges crooks in Swahili. In a veiled threat, he referred to Maraga and said, “Do you understand me? Maraga should know that he is now dealing with the serving President. We are keeping a close eye on them. But let us deal with the election first. We are not afraid.”
Kenya’s highest court has now responded to the controversy and laid out the reasons why it was forced for declare the elections null and void. The court stated that the results were “neither transparent nor verifiable.” It has blamed the electoral commission for the problems.
According to the court (and the opposition), the results of the election had been declared before the results from the 40,000 polling stations had even been received.
Justice Philomena Mwilu said in addition, the commission also did not provide access to the court to verify claims. Thus, the court had "no choice but to accept the petitioner's claims that the IEBC's IT system was infiltrated and compromised, and the data therein interfered with, or IEBC's officials themselves interfered with the data."
David Maraga, has also spoken on the development and elaborated on the threats received by the judges since the ruling. He said that individual judges have been targeted on social media along with their staff. He also made a veiled criticism noting, “Senior political leaders have also threatened the judiciary, promising to cut it down to size and teach us a lesson.”
Our assessment is in line with our previous conclusion that IT systems of election commissions can be infiltrated and data compromised. It’s extremely important that the fundamentals of modern democracy have not been negated by a few who have the ability to penetrate IT systems thereby compromising the legitimacy of any free and fair elections. It is perhaps this possibility that has forced many developed nations to stop the practice of electronic voting. We believe that the system of electronic voting backed by a proper paper trail as recently adopted by the election commission in India will better reflect the true preferences of the electorate.