28 March 2013

Kenya: Raila Has No Case, IEBC Boss Argues

Nairobi — The Chairman of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) Issack Hassan put up a robust challenge to Prime Minister Raila Odinga's petition, insisting that the March 4 General Election was faultless.

Through senior counsel Ahmednasir Abdullahi, Hassan told Kenya's highest court that the election was not as in other third world countries that are mostly marred by violence, death, bribery, mass disenfranchisement, low voter turnout and tampering with election materials.

"The election of 2013 redeemed the image of this country. We did a peaceful election. We cannot equate free and fair elections with the historic desires of one person; petitioners have failed to show what prejudice they suffered," Abdullahi said.

"My Lords, the petitioner has a screen-saver on his phone showing that his votes have been stolen; only the year changes," he said affirming that Odinga had not conceded defeated in the three presidential elections he has lost.

He told the court that there would be a constitutional crisis if the court granted Odinga the reliefs sought - to set aside the process and the result - which would call for fresh voter registration and the reconstitution of the IEBC within 60 days.

In effect, he wants the term of the grand coalition government extended indefinitely.

Abdullahi equated the Odinga case to a "boardroom petition" that was concerned so much with legal technicalities but with no evidence of factual incidents on the ground.

He pleaded with the court to exercise restraint in its determination of the matter saying that the end result was the determination of a "mundane point of law" that had little ramifications to the life of an average Kenyan.

In his 53-minute submission infused with humour, Abdullahi insisted, citing cases in the Philippines and in the United States that the court had to respect the will of the 50.7 percent who voted for President-elect Uhuru Kenyatta and those who voted for Odinga.

"With 86 percent voter turnout Kenyans have spoken. They signed a social contract with Kenyatta and Ruto to rule and reign for five years; 43 percent also signed a contract with Odinga that they will form a strong opposition," he said.

Abdullahi insisted that the commission was right to fall back on manual tallying following the failure of the Results Transmission System (RTS).

Lawyer Karori Kamau acting for the IEBC also threw his weight behind the submissions insisting that the voting system used met the threshold envisioned by the Constitution.

He said that the petitioner had failed to show an instance where a single person who was not registered was allowed to vote.

"Nothing showing that there was an impropriety in the admitting of people to vote has been shown to the court," he said.

He accused Odinga of polarising the country by doing a self serving sampling of the areas where he alleged malpractice with the special register.

While prosecuting the petition, lawyer George Oraro had on Wednesday indicated that more of the voters without biometrics were found to be in Kiambu, Meru and the Rift Valley.

Karori affirmed that there was no collusion between IEBC and either of the top two candidates from the recently concluded election.


Lordrick is a graduate of the University of Nairobi with a bachelor's degree in broadcast journalism. He is passionate about political and governance issues. He also takes keen interest in human rights matters, justice and is fond of sports.

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