Kenyan opposition leader: election board must resign, face prosecution

Michele Moreno
September 2, 2017

The country's electoral commission had already declared incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta the victor of last month's election, with 54.3 percent of the vote in a contest were almost 80 percent of Kenya's 19 million registered voters were said to have cast ballots.

Kenya's election commission had admitted that there had been a hacking attempt on its computer system but maintained it was unsuccessful, while worldwide observers had said there were no signs of interference with the vote.

Worldwide observers, more than 400 of whom were on the ground for the August 8 election, had signed off on the result, despite the murder of a top election official just days before the vote and a breakdown in the tallying system that saw some of the results reported via text message. And the European Observer Mission said that they had not observed any signs of "centralized or localized manipulation" of the vote.

Kenyatta at the time was facing criminal charges at the International Criminal Court over his alleged role in the post-election violence in 2007, fueled by ethnic tensions, that left more than 1,000 people dead.

A rerun of the vote raises fears of a return to violence in a country with a history of combustible electoral politics. Around 1,200 people died in the unrest.

"We are not at war with our brothers and sisters in the opposition because we are all Kenyans", Kenyatta said on national television. Let us not be tribal, let us not be divided. "We are ready to go back again to the people with the same agenda", he said.

The opposition was, however, unhappy. In 2013, Odinga also took his grievances to court and lost. He claimed that the electoral commission's IT system had been hacked and that the results were fixed.

There have already been positive reactions from neighboring countries, where elections have also been clouded by allegations of fraud.

The court ruled that the presidential elections were not conducted in accordance with the constitution rendering the result "invalid, null and void".

Judges declare election result invalid.

"This indeed is a very historic day for the people of Kenya, and by extension for the people of the continent of Africa", a grinning Odinga told wildly cheering supporters outside court.

A self-described leftist educated as an engineer in communist East Germany, the young Odinga cultivated a firebrand image, naming his first son Fidel Castro and adopting the nickname "Agwambo", or "controversial one" in his native Luo tongue.

The ruling increases the likelihood of a violent crisis in Kenya, John Ashbourne, Africa economist at Capital Economics London, said in an emailed note.

The court decision to cancel the result, the first of its kind in Kenya's history, sets up a new race for the presidency between UhuruKenyatta and veteran opposition leader Raila Odinga.

Raila Odinga, Mr Kenyatta's opponent, said the commission was "rotten" and demanded resignations and prosecutions.

The run-up to the August 8 election was marred by the murder of top IEBC IT official Chris Msando and opposition allegations that rigging was certain.

In Meru residents felt that Mr Kenyatta will beat Mr Odinga by bigger margin in the repeat elections.

Hardly anyone reckoned with this decision made under Chief Justice David Marago, who on Monday ordered the Electoral Commission to give the opposition access to servers and other electronic equipment.

Other reports by Insurance News

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