News / Africa

Kenyan Supreme Court to Rule on Election Complaints

Six Supreme Court judges arrive at court to hear the petition by Kenya's Prime Minister Raila Odinga filed against president-elect Uhuru Kenyatta, March 25, 2013.
Six Supreme Court judges arrive at court to hear the petition by Kenya's Prime Minister Raila Odinga filed against president-elect Uhuru Kenyatta, March 25, 2013.
Gabe Joselow
Kenya’s Supreme Court is to present its ruling Saturday on the credibility of the March 4 presidential election, which was marred by technical problems. A court-ordered audit of polling stations has shown discrepancies in the vote tallying.
 
Uhuru Kenyatta was declared the winner of Kenya’s presidential election with 50.07 percent of the vote, just enough to avoid a run-off with the runner-up, Prime Minister Raila Odinga.
 
Odinga’s lawyers and a civil society group have filed petitions challenging the results.
 
On the last day of arguments Friday, lawyers representing the two presidential candidates, civil society and the electoral commission, discussed a just-released recount of the results from 22 polling stations.
 
Odinga’s team said the audit showed that vote totals were altered between the local and national tallying centers.
 
Kethi Kilonzo, the lawyer for the civil society group, the Africa Center for Open Governance (Africog), said the report also showed the head of the electoral commission announced Kenyatta’s victory when results from 10 of those polling stations were not yet available.
 
“This report confirms that the returning officer of the presidential elections made a decision without completing the tally of the results from the polling stations," said Kilonzo.
 
The electoral commission, the IEBC, has defended the results, attributing any discrepancies to human error.
 
Kenyatta’s lawyer, Fred Ngatia, backed up the IEBC’s position Friday, dismissing speculation of any malicious intent.
 
“But the point is, my lords, it is across the country," said Ngatia. "There is no mischief that can be attributed or no advantage that can be attributed from any clerical error that may have occurred.”
 
There is no question that the election systems put in place by the IEBC were flawed, says George Kegoro, executive director of the Kenyan section of the International Commission of Jurists.
 
He also says the IEBC has been slow to release election-related documents that may put them in a bad light.
 
“The IEBC can say on the one had they didn’t have a lot of time, but they’ve also shown that in relation to documents that they regard as assisting them in the case, they show greater efficiency in making those available to parties," said Kegoro.
 
If four of Kenya’s six Supreme Court justices rule that the results were not valid, another presidential election will have to be held.  Otherwise, the petitions will be rejected and Mr. Kenyatta will be confirmed the winner of the election, to be sworn in to office on April 9.

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