In a ruling issued today that is sure to have wide reverberations, Kenya’s Supreme Court has nullified the result of the August 8 presidential election won by President Uhuru Kenyatta.
The electoral board committed “irregularities and illegalities” during the vote. The Court said that those actions harmed the integrity of the election and ordered a new election within sixty days.
This is the first time an election in Kenya has been overturned.
In a national address following the court decision, Kenyatta said that while he “personally disagrees” with the ruling, he will “respect it, as much as I disagree with it”.
“It is important to respect the rule of law … we are ready to go back again to the people with the same agenda,” he said as he appealed for calm.
But he also criticised the six members of the Supreme Court for going “against the will of the people”, by nullifying the vote.
A lawyer for Kenyatta, Ahmednasir Abdullahi, said the decision was “very political” and the election board had “done nothing wrong”.
The case was in the Supreme Court because it was brought by opposition leader Raila Odinga, who had lost with only 46% of the vote and charged that voting results were manipulated.
“This is an unprecedented ruling,” Odinga said outside the court. “This is a triumph for the people of Kenya.”
“We have no faith at all in the electoral commission as currently constituted. They have committed criminal acts,” said Odinga.
“Most of them actually belong [in] 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.”
Residents in the western city of Kisumu, where Odinga has strong backing, celebrated in the streets. Motorcycle riders honked their horns.
“Today is a special today and I will celebrate until I am worn out,” said 32-year-old Kevin Ouma.
East Africa’s biggest economy has a history of disputed elections. A dispute over the 2007 poll, which Odinga challenged after being declared loser, was followed by weeks of ethnic bloodshed in which more than 1,200 were killed.
“The judges found that the electoral commission did not conduct the election according to the constitution and the electoral laws of Kenya. They say there have been massive irregularities in the transmission of the results from the polling station to the national tallying centre,” said Adow.
“This verdict given today raises a lot of questions.”
Odinga has contested the last three elections and lost each time. After each one, he has claimed the votes were marred by rigging. In 2013, the Supreme Court dismissed his petition.