A court in Kenya has declared the results of the Kenya elections held on August 8th, null and void.
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 held on August 8th 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.”
The court has not placed any blame on Kenyatta or his government.
Odinga has responded by noting that he will win the elections when they are held in the future. He said, “It is clear that the real election results were never shared with Kenyans. Someone must take responsibility. We won the elections and we are going to win them again."
Kenyatta meanwhile has urged Kenyans to maintain peace in the wake of the ruling. He said that he disagreed with the judgement but would respect it. In a televised address, he noted that it was "important to respect the rule of law even if you disagree with the Supreme Court ruling". He added, “Your neighbor will still be your neighbor, regardless of what has happened. My primary message today to every single Kenyan is peace. Let us be people of peace." However, during a rally, Kenyatta was decidedly more aggressive 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.”
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.
Our assessment is that regardless of the outcome, this is a landmark judgment not only in Kenya but also across Africa.