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Kenyatta, Odinga more keen than ever to win

Kenya’s Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) officials make a sweep of electoral material August 7, 2017. They face new challenges. PHOTO AFP

Given its challenges, why did Kenya’s IEBC schedule the rerun election before the 60 day limit? 

Nairobi, Kenya | ISS TODAY |  Kenya’s Supreme Court has been widely – and rightly – hailed for its bold, historic and unprecedented decision last week to annul the 8 August election victory of President Uhuru Kenyatta. As far as can be established, this is the first time an African court has upheld a challenge to an incumbent victory in an election.

But the court has also set Kenya up for an even more fraught rerun election on 17 October than the last one. Both main candidates, Kenyatta and his rival Raila Odinga, are more convinced than ever that they were the rightful winners of last month’s contest – and are therefore even less likely to concede defeat.

The Supreme Court gave the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) 60 days to hold the rerun. That was already too tight a schedule, practically speaking. But the IEBC then announced this week that the elections would be held on 17 October – even sooner than the deadline.

However Odinga vowed on Tuesday that he wouldn’t participate in the poll unless he was given ‘legal and constitutional’ guarantees. These include the removal of some IEBC officials. He wants them to be criminally charged.

Last Friday when the Supreme Court annulled the election, it laid the blame squarely on the IEBC, saying it hadn’t conducted the 8 August poll in line with the constitution and the electoral laws. It also said the IEBC had perpetrated ‘irregularities and illegalities’ in transmitting the voting figures from polling stations to central tallying centres. The court said it would publish the full reasons for its decisions within 21 days.

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