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Kenya's Election Season Extended as 3 Petitions Filed in Court

  • Jill Craig

A member of the parliament from the Kenyan opposition National Super Alliance (NASA) coalition attends a news conference launching a new campaign in Nairobi, Kenya, November 3, 2017.

Just when many Kenyans thought they had seen the end of the country's long election season, three petitions to contest the process were filed with the Supreme Court ahead of a Monday night deadline. The petitions target all sides in the presidential election controversy — the electoral commission, opposition leader Raila Odinga and President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Former lawmaker Harun Mwau filed a petition against the electoral commission, known as the IEBC, as well as its chairman and President Kenyatta. Mwau is challenging the validity of the October 26 re-run presidential election, which he argues was held in violation of Supreme Court directions, the Constitution and relevant electoral laws.

The Institute for Democratic Governance, an NGO, filed one against several officials in the opposition NASA coalition, including leader Raila Odinga, for engaging in what it called a "carefully choreographed scheme to derail, undermine, and subvert the fresh election as announced by the Supreme Court."

The IDG also accused the opposition of setting unreasonable demands for the electoral commission to meet.

In addition, Khelef Khalifa, chairman of the group Mombasa-based Muslims for Human Rights, filed a petition against the IEBC and its chairman, as well as Kenyatta and the NASA coalition. Khalifa filed jointly with Njonjo Mue, Kenya's chairman of the International Commission of Jurists.

"We filed this petition because there were a lot of irregularities in the last election and this election," said Khalifa. "When [the] Supreme Court made a ruling, and stated there were irregularities, because the procedures were not followed, and the Supreme Court was very categorical that elections is not an event, it's a process. Now, in this election, the process also was not followed. So it compelled us to go to court because we felt this election was not going to be free and fair."

FILE - Opposition supporters run from police during clashes after the election commission announced results from the Oct. 26 vote in the Kibera area of Nairobi, Kenya, Oct. 30, 2017.
FILE - Opposition supporters run from police during clashes after the election commission announced results from the Oct. 26 vote in the Kibera area of Nairobi, Kenya, Oct. 30, 2017.

Petition: No 'fresh poll'

Kenya's Supreme Court annulled the August presidential poll due to what it called "irregularities and illegalities" in the IEBC's transmission of results, and ordered the body to conduct fresh polls within 60 days.

In the joint petition, Khalifa and Mue accuse the IEBC of not conducting a fresh election per the Constitution and electoral laws, of failing to meet the general principle of universal suffrage, and of failing to hold elections free from violence and intimidation.

Khalifa, however, says he and Mue also want the opposition to explain why supporters disrupted polling in four opposition stronghold areas where the IEBC was unable to conduct the voting exercise.

"NASA did not try to prevent its voters not to disrupt the voting," said Khalifa. "This is an area where we also want NASA to come in and explain. Because this is a major thing, you see?

President Kenyatta won a landslide victory in the re-run election, as most Odinga supporters heeded a call to boycott the vote.

Kenya's Supreme Court has until November 14 to rule on the three petitions. If the election results are upheld, Kenyatta will be inaugurated for a second term on November 28.

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