Nairobi, Kenya | AFP | Kenya’s Supreme Court on Friday ordered a new presidential election within 60 days, in a shock ruling cancelling the results of last month’s poll over widespread irregularities.
Chief Justice David Maraga said a majority decision by the panel of six judges, with two dissenting, found that President Uhuru Kenyatta “was not validly elected”, rendering the result “invalid, null and void”.
Supporters of veteran opposition leader Raila Odinga’s wept and cheered, utterly stunned at what they saw as a historic ruling, after losses in successive polls they believe were rigged, from a judiciary long seen as compromised in favour of the ruling elite.
Odinga, 72, hailed the “historic” ruling which is a first in Africa.
“It is now clear that no one in Kenya is above the law,” he said. (READ FULL STATEMENT BY NASA and SUPREME COURT RULING PAGE 2)
Maraga said the election commission (IEBC) had “failed, neglected or refused to conduct the presidential election in a manner consistent with the dictates of the constitution”.
Kenyatta, the first African president to have his re-election overturned by a court ruling, cheerfully took to the streets to address supporters saying he was ready to campaign again.
He slammed Maraga and his fellow judges as “crooks” as he spoke off the cuff, after earlier saying that while he disagreed with the ruling, he respected it.
– ‘Kudos to the judges!’ –
Kenya has a long history of disputed votes, election violence and a lack of faith in the judiciary’s independence.
“It was a surprise because the trend in justice in Kenya is not good, but this time justice has been done,” said 39-year-old accountancy student Donna Abongo.
“Kudos to the judges!”
“For the first time we have got justice. They have stolen elections for so long,” said fishmonger Lynette Akello in western Kisumu.
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.
Indeed Odinga and his National Super Alliance (NASA) cried foul shortly after counting began, claiming the system transmitting votes had been hacked, and that forms from polling stations that were meant to back up the electronic results were not being uploaded.
The August 11 declaration of Kenyatta’s victory with 54.27 percent of the vote — with not all the tallying forms in — sparked two days of protests in the slums of Nairobi and Kisumu, traditional opposition strongholds.
At least 21 people, including a baby and a nine-year-old girl, were killed, mostly by police, according to an AFP tally.