2 September 2017

Kenya Poll Body's Credibility in Question

Photo: Evans Habil/Daily Nation
Nasa leader Raila Odinga (file photo).

Kenya's electoral body is now in the spotlight following the nullification of the presidential election by the Supreme Court, which also ordered fresh polls.

Immediately after the ruling, the National Super Alliance (Nasa) leadership, led by Raila Odinga, was unanimous in saying the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) cannot be relied on to conduct a credible election in 60 days.

"We have no faith in IEBC as currently constituted because some of the officials have committed criminal offences and they belong in prison. We are going to prosecute those who have committed election offences," said Mr Odinga.

His running mate Kalonzo Musyoka also said that Nasa does not have faith that IEBC is capable of conducting free and fair elections.

The Supreme Court gave a summary ruling and will issue a comprehensive report in 21 days.

However, legal experts say it would be difficult to reconstitute IEBC within 60 days before holding fresh presidential elections. According to constitutional lawyer, Gitobu Imanyara, it is unfortunate that Nasa was quick to call for the disbandment of the IEBC instead of calling on them to adhere to the election laws.

"The IEBC is capable of upholding the election laws. My thinking is that there will be many court cases from Nasa within the next 60 days to force IEBC to conform to the law. Otherwise the court ruling was good for the country's democracy and an indication that the Constitution is taking root," said Mr Imanyara.

However, he said that he foresees many petitions from Nasa in other posts that they lost such as gubernatorial, Members of National Assembly, Senate and County assembly in a bid to take advantage of the Supreme Court judgment that elections were flawed.

'Political decision'

However, IEBC's lead lawyer Paul Muite, said his team would wait for the comprehensive judgment.

"Since it was a majority judgment, the Supreme Court has spoken and whether rightly or wrongly, we will find out in the comprehensive report," he said.

President Kenyatta's lawyer, Ahmednasir Abdullahi, faulted the court insisting that his client won the election by 1.4 million votes and that the Supreme Court judgment was a "political decision."

"While it is a political decision, we will live with it and since my client's win was a result of the will of the people, the people of Kenya will show the same again after 60 days," said Mr Abdullahi.

However, Chief Justice David Maraga said that while everybody is entitled to his or her own opinion he called for patience.

"The election is a process and not an event and all processes must be adhered to," he said.

The six-bench Supreme Court led by Justice Maraga, gave a majority ruling in which the court found that the IEBC failed or refused to conduct the elections in accordance with election laws; there were irregularities and illegalities in the transmission of results, and that the irregularities substantially affected the integrity of the entire presidential elections.

President Uhuru Kenyatta, in his address to the nation said that even though he did not agree with the Supreme Court ruling, his government respected the decision and would abide by it.

"Millions of Kenyans queued for hours and made their choice by electing majority Jubilee governors, members of parliament and members of county assembly. However, we are ready to go back to the people with the same agenda of unity, building a national party and develop the country," said President Kenyatta.

He called on Kenyans to maintain peace and treat each other as brothers and sisters and urged his supporters to be ready to vote for him once more.

In his orders, Justice Maraga said, "We declare that the presidential election held on August 8 is invalid and null and void. The third respondent {President Kenyatta} was not duly elected the president of Kenya."

Two of the judges - ustice Njoki Ndungu and Justice Jacktone Ojwang dissented, while Justice Maraga, Justice Smokin Wanjala, deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mbete Mwilu and Justice Isaac Lenaola voted for nullification. The seventh judge, Justice Mohamed Ibrahim was taken ill on the last day of the hearing.

Mr Imanyara said that political uncertainty and the impact it will have on the economy will continue for the next 60 days and beyond.

While President Kenyatta's cabinet remains intact and will continue to work for the next three months, he cannot inaugurate parliament.

The country must now order for the printing of fresh presidential ballot papers and there is a possibility of issuing a fresh tender given that Nasa had objected to Dubai-based firm Al-Ghurair Printing and Publishing Company prior to the election on account of having links with the Kenyatta family.

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