Monday September 4, 2017
Chief Justice David Maraga said that the IEBC had committed “irregularities and illegalities” in the transmission of results from polling stations to the national tally centre.
Nairobi (HOL) - Kenya’s Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) announced that the country will be holding fresh elections on October, 17 after the countries highest court struck down the results of last month’s presidential election won by incumbent Uhuru Kenyatta.
“A fresh presidential election will be held on the 17th of October 2017,” said a statement signed by Wafula Chebukati, chairperson of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).
“This is in conformity with the Supreme Court decision annulling the presidential election held on 8th August 2017.”
Only Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga will be on the ballot box in October.
The initial results announced on August 11, gave Kenyatta a second term with 54% of the vote, followed by Odinga with 44.7%.
In a historic 4-2 decision, Kenya’s Supreme Court declared the that the August 8 election was "was not conducted in accordance with the Constitution and … is invalid" and demanded that another election to be held within 60 days of their ruling. The decision was the first time in Africa that a high court nullified the re-election of a sitting president and sent shockwaves around the country.
Speaking at a rally in Nairobi shortly after the court announcement, Kenyatta blasted the judges, calling them “crooks” and reminded his supporters that he is still the incumbent president. (Under the 2010 constitution, he remains the “temporary incumbent” but has no power to appoint judges or nominate or dismiss a cabinet.) He also warned the Chief Justice not to interfere with the electoral commission and that although he respected the decision, he was not intimidated by the courts.
“(Chief Justice David) Maraga, don’t interfere and don’t think because our friends shout and we keep quite that we are scared of you. No, we are not” … “You’ve done your ruling, we have respected it; let IEBC do their job, let them declare the date and Raila (Odinga) let us meet at the ballot.”
It is unclear how the vote will work and what role the IEBC will play. The electoral commission has been at the centre of the fraud accusations by the court and the Odinga's NASA coalition. However, Kenya’s presidential spokesperson doubled down on Monday saying that the government will not replace members of the commission.
The ruling vindicated presidential hopeful Raila Odinga who alleged that the IEBC computer systems were compromised in favour of Uhuru Kenyatta. In light of the ruling, Mr. Odinga has called for the prosecution of IEBC commissioners.
“We have no faith at all in the electoral commission, they have committed criminal acts. Most of them actually “belonging to jail” and therefore we are going to ask for their prosecution”.
Odinga, a former prime minister, ran three unsuccessful presidential campaigns in 1997, 2007 and 2013. In 2013 - the first elections held under the new constitution - Odinga unsuccessfully petitioned the Supreme Court to declare the results invalid. The petition was unanimously rejected by six judges and Raila accepted the judgment.
In his concession speech, Raila said he disagreed with the ruling but that 'Kenya is more important and urged Uhuru to reunite all Kenyans and uphold constitutionalism’.
This time around, Odinga received the ruling he had hoped for.
In the wake of the results, many of his critics were quick to call him a “sore, perennial loser” and urged him to accept the election results.
The court ruling also calls into question the role that election observers - many of whom endorsed the poll and called upon Kenyan politicians to concede “gracefully”.
Over 400 election monitors from the EU, African Union, United States, including Former US Secretary of State John Kerry had called the Aug. 8 vote “free, fair and credible.” President Uhuru Kenyatta’s lawyer, Fred Natia had cited the international election observers reports as evidence during the Supreme Court hearing.
Analysts are worried about the economic impact on the political uncertainty in Kenya. Kenya is East Africa’s largest economy and the August elections were billed as the most expensive election in Africa and among the most expensive in the world on a per vote basis. Economists estimate that aggregate spending for the poll topped $1 billion. With the stakes high, analysts are expecting spending to continue into the second election.
Millions of Kenyans are expected to travel to their home villages to vote which will turn Nairobi into a ghost town once again with shops closing down and streets emptied.
Lisa Brown, a risk analyst at Rand Merchant Bank says the new vote will result in more spending at a time when Kenya is already facing a fiscal deficit of 10.2%
“This could see the government having to plug spending through an even more aggressive domestic and international debt uptake,” Brown told Bloomberg. “The delayed election will likely impact on how expensive this debt will be. Pushing debt beyond their own projections could raise concerns for rating agencies.”
Credit rating agency Moody’s said that a ruling by Kenya’s Supreme Court to nullify last month’s presidential election result was a credit negative for the East African country.
”The events would “further stymie the development of policies to address the country’s main credit challenges, in particular, the large fiscal deficit of 10 percent of GDP,” the agency added.