Kenya’s supreme court upholds Kenyatta’s presidential win

Main challenger says ruling ‘a decision taken under duress’ after judges’ bodyguard shot

Supporters of President Uhuru Kenyatta celebrate after Kenya’s supreme court dismissed petitions to overturn the country’s presidential election rerun. Photograph: Fredrik Lerneryd/AFP/Getty Images

Supporters of President Uhuru Kenyatta celebrate after Kenya’s supreme court dismissed petitions to overturn the country’s presidential election rerun. Photograph: Fredrik Lerneryd/AFP/Getty Images

 

Kenya’s supreme court on Monday upheld the re-election of President Uhuru Kenyatta in last month’s repeat presidential vote, paving the way for him to be sworn in next week.

Chief justice David Maraga said all six judges dismissed the two legal challenges to the vote. Opposition coalition Nasa insisted the government was illegitimate.

Mr Kenyatta’s main challenger, Nasa’s Raila Odinga, said via adviser Salim Lone that the ruling “did not come as a surprise” and that it was “a decision taken under duress”.

“We in Nasa had repeatedly declared before this supreme court ruling today that we consider this government to be illegitimate and do not recognise it. This position has not been changed by the court ruling,” the statement said.

It referred to security concerns raised by the opposition about the judges after one of their bodyguards was shot the day before the court was to rule on a request to delay the vote.

The chief justice said at the time police had “enhanced” security after the shooting. The court could not immediately be reached on Monday to comment on Nasa’s allegation.

Swearing-in

Monday’s ruling clears the way for Mr Kenyatta’s swearing-in on November 28th, but it is unlikely to end the worst political crisis in East Africa’s most developed economy in a decade. Sporadic clashes erupted in pro-opposition areas after the ruling.

Mr Odinga had called for a “national resistance movement” after Mr Kenyatta’s victory last month. Mr Kenyatta had said he would not engage in dialogue with the opposition until “constitutional options” had been exhausted.

The prolonged election process has disrupted the economy and forced the government to cut its growth forecast. Rights groups say at least 66 people have died in bloodshed surrounding the votes in August and October.

The petitioners had argued that the outcome should be voided because the election board did not seek fresh nominations after the August 8th poll was invalidated, and because the vote was not held in each of the 291 constituencies.

The supreme court ordered the October 26th election after nullifying the results of the August election, citing irregularities in the tallying of votes – an unprecedented move on the continent.

Boycott

The opposition boycotted the poll, which Mr Kenyatta won with 98 per cent of the vote. Some opposition supporters mobilised to prevent polls from opening in the west of the country.

“The court has unanimously determined that the petitions are not merited,” chief justice Maraga said. “As a consequence, the presidential election of 26th of October is hereby upheld.”

The court did not detail its reasons. It said it would issue a full judgment within 21 days.

The decision was met with applause in the courtroom from lawyers for the election commission and Mr Kenyatta. The commission said the ruling affirmed its “resolve and deliberate efforts to conduct free, fair and credible elections”.

– Reuters