17 December 2012

Kenya: Supreme Court Puts Uhuru Run-Off Prospects in Doubt

A Supreme Court ruling last week may have complicated the chances of Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta participating in the second round of the presidential election.

In a unanimous decision, five judges agreed that disputes from the first round should be heard by the court. If a dispute arises after the first round, Uhuru is likely to miss the second round which may now be held around April 26.

Uhuru and Eldoret North MP William Ruto will be at the International Criminal Court from April 10 and 11 for the start of their trials for crimes against humanity.

"In our unanimous opinion, in the event of a second round of election, the words "within thirty days after the previous election" should be read to mean thirty days from the date on which disputes in respect of the first round will have been resolved," the judges said.

That means that Uhuru and Ruto's trials could be well underway at the Hague by the second round of elections. According to the ruling, if a candidate or "indeed any other person" contests the validity of the first round, the person will be heard.

The constitution states the person will have 7 days after the declaration of the results to file the petition. Assuming the results are announced on March 5 (although IEBC has 7days to do so), the petition deadline is March 12.

The Supreme Court will have 14 days till March 26 to determine the matter. In the case of a run-off affair, the 30 days will lapse on April 26.

The new president will be sworn in seven days later at around March 26 if the dispute does not entail a second round and is resolved amicably.

If the Supreme Court invalidates the results for an election which does not entail a second round, fresh elections will be held within 2 months (by June 26).

If another dispute is lodged after the run-off is held by April 27, petitioners will, again, have 7 days up to May 4 to lodge their petition. The Supreme Court will have 14 days up to around May 18 to determine the dispute.

If resolved, the president-elect will be sworn in seven days (by May 25). If quashed, fresh elections will be held in two months, that is, before July 18.

Should Uhuru and Ruto win on the first round and no dispute arises, results are likely to be declared in a day or two after polling, say March 6.

They will then be sworn in on March 26 which is the first Tuesday following 14 days after the declaration of results. Attorney General Githu Muigai had moved to the court seeking to know how presidential disputes arising from the first round will be determined.

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