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Kenya Opposition Questions Electoral Commission's Role in October Elections

Kenya's Attorney General Githu Muigai speaks during a press conference in Nairobi, Kenya, Sept. 22, 2017.

The same institution responsible for the failures in Kenya's August's presidential poll is expected to organize a fresh vote in fewer than five weeks. Briefing reporters Friday, the attorney general sought to stave off fears of an impending constitutional crisis.

Kenya's opposition has given the director of public prosecutions three days to file charges against electoral commission officials accused of bungling the August presidential vote. The results of that poll were nullified by the Supreme Court.

Opposition member of parliament Godfrey Osotsi said his party cannot allow the same officials to conduct the rerun election, now scheduled for October 26.

Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta (L) accompanied by Deputy President William Ruto, right, speaks to the media at State House in Nairobi, Kenya, Sept. 21, 2017.
Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta (L) accompanied by Deputy President William Ruto, right, speaks to the media at State House in Nairobi, Kenya, Sept. 21, 2017.

"We are going to provide evidence from our ICT people and from our lawyers to support our case because this election cannot be free if those individuals are still going to preside over a fresh election," he said.

This kind of demand has legal experts worried about a constitutional crisis if the electoral commission fails to hold the new election within the required 60 days of the Supreme Court's September 1 ruling.

Attorney General Githu Muigai said Friday there will be no crisis.

"Even in the unlikely event that for whatever reason the election wasn't held on the 60th day, that does not delegitimize the constitutional order of the day," he said. "And in many countries, there have been various methods of expanding the time within which something is to be done."

Some legal professionals argue that if the October 31 deadline is missed, President Uhuru Kenyatta will have to make way for a caretaker administration.

Muigai disagrees.

"To establish any form of government other than compliance with this constitution is declared by the constitution unlawful," he said. "There is no government known to the constitution of Kenya called a transitional government or a caretaker government or any other form of government other than what is defined in this constitution."

Kenyans are divided over the court's decision to throw out the presidential results.The court said electronically transmitted results released by the electoral commission were neither transparent nor verifiable, as required by law.

The ruling Jubilee Party says the court failed to consider the voters and the final result, which showed Kenyatta winning by 1.4 million votes.

Constitutional expert Nelson Havi said the court focused on the electoral process.

"What the constitution wanted to achieve was to have a very simplistic process where the common man would be in a position to understand how a determination as to who won the election was arrived at," he said. "It was meant to be a simple and a straightforward [way] everybody would understand."

The voiding of the presidential vote has sparked appeals for the courts to nullify other results from the August general elections.More than 300 lawsuits have been filed so far, mostly by candidates who lost their bid for office.