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Kenya's Presidential Poll Results Declared 'Invalid, Null and Void'

  • Jill Craig

Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta speaks to the nation in this image taken from TV, Sept. 1, 2017.

Kenyans reacted with celebration, frustration and shock Friday after the Supreme Court, in a 4 to 2 decision, ordered a do-over of last month's presidential election.

The court ruled that the Independent Election and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) was responsible for "irregularities and illegalities" in the transmission of election results.

"A declaration is hereby issued that the presidential election on the 8thAugust 2017 was not conducted in accordance with the constitution, and the applicable law, rendering the declared results invalid, null, and void," said Chief Justice David Maraga.

The declared results had showed incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta defeating opposition leader Raila Odinga by a margin of about 1.4 million votes.

Maraga said the electoral commission must conduct a credible, fresh presidential election within 60 days.

It was a ruling in favor of the petitioners, Odinga and his NASA coalition, who have argued that a hacked voting system made for a "stolen election."

Opposition leader Raila Odinga gestures as he arrives at the Supreme Court in downtown Nairobi, Kenya Friday, Sept. 1, 2017.
Opposition leader Raila Odinga gestures as he arrives at the Supreme Court in downtown Nairobi, Kenya Friday, Sept. 1, 2017.

"This is a very historic day for the people of Kenya, and by extension, the people of the continent of Africa," Odinga said Friday. For the first time in history of African democratization, a ruling has been made by a court nullifying irregular elections of a president. This is a precedent-setting ruling."

Kenyatta expressed disappointment in the decision but "vowed to go back again to the people, with the same agenda."

"Millions of Kenyans queued, made their choice, and six people have decided that they will go against the will of the people," he said. "The court has made its decision. We respect it. We don't agree with it."

Odinga reiterated that his coalition has no faith in the electoral commission "as currently constituted."

"They have committed criminal acts, most of them actually belong in the jail. And therefore, we are going to ask for prosecution of all the electoral commission officers who have caused this monstrous crime against the people of Kenya," he said.

University of Nairobi lecturer Herman Manyora disagrees with this approach.

"Elections are not perfect by their nature. Even in the election of the pope. Nothing is perfect. And therefore, you cannot immediately think about jailing people. I think that's extreme," said Manyora.

But even electoral commission chairman Wafula Chebukati didn't rule it out.

"The commission invites the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions to urgently and expeditiously investigate and prosecute any of our staff that may have been involved in the violation of the Election Offenses Act," said Chebukati.

Chebukati also requested the court provide its full judgment as soon as possible in order for his team to prepare for fresh elections.

Manyora argues that if the court had upheld Kenyatta's win, he would spend the next five years with the awareness that at least half the country did not consider him a "legitimate" president.

"So I think even from where he stands, if indeed he won, he should be happy because this is an opportunity to show the other side that "indeed, I beat you." And the other guy [Odinga] who is claiming that the election was stolen, it's an opportunity to show that it is true. So, I think either way, to me I think that was the best ruling," said Manyora.

Twenty-four heads of mission, including those from the U.S., Britain, Canada and the European Union, released a statement that the decision demonstrated Kenya's "resilient democracy and commitment to the rule of law," and urged the new presidential poll be free, fair, credible and peaceful.

After the ruling, Kenya's stock market briefly stopped trading after blue chip shares fell by the 10 percent limit.

Meanwhile, supporters of Odinga poured into the streets, cheering, and waiting for another chance to elect their candidate.

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