The presidential election in Kenya has been temporarily suspended following the Supreme Court ruling
Kenyans held their breath on Monday as they awaited a Supreme Court ruling on the disputed presidential election results, with many fearing the annulment of the ballot would usher in a period of uncertainty.
On August 16, incumbent Vice President William Rudo was declared the winner of one of the tightest elections in Kenya’s history, with Odinga leading by about 233,000 votes (48.85% vs. 50.49%) over Raila, a historic opposition figure backed this year by outgoing president Uhuru Kenyatta and his powerful party.
Mr Odinga appealed to the Supreme Court, saying there was “sufficient evidence” for his victory.
This veteran politician (age 77) – who challenged the results of the last three presidential elections – had the election nullified by the Supreme Court in 2017, a first in Africa.
He called this new legal struggle a “struggle for democracy and good governance” against “corrupt gangs”.
William Rudo accused his opponent of “trying to get a second chance through a fresh election mandated by justice”.
The judgment of the Supreme Court, known for its independence, is eagerly awaited.
While Kenya is seen as an economic locomotive and haven of stability in beleaguered East Africa, the country has experienced unrest during election periods in the past – in 2007, killing more than 1,100 people.
– “Waste of time and money” –
Voting took place peacefully on August 9, but chaos followed the declaration of results the following week.
Shortly before the announcement, four of the seven members of the Electoral Commission (IEBC) distanced themselves from the results, accusing their chairman Wafula Chebukati of presiding over an “opaque” process. Mr. Ruto’s election declaration sparked a fight in pro-Odinga strongholds.
Many Kenyans fear that the invalidity of the results – akin to a new election period – will plunge the country into months of uncertainty, which will worsen their daily hardships, especially due to persistent inflation.
“We have already wasted a lot of time and money. If we go to elections again, we will waste (even more) time and resources,” said Anne Karanja, a fruit seller in the capital, Nairobi.
Under pressure after the 2017 annulment, the IEBC is once again in the eye of the storm.
Raila Odinga claims the Electoral Commission’s servers were hacked to introduce false result forms and about 140,000 votes were not counted.
IEBC’s boss denied the allegations, saying he had performed his duties according to law despite “threats and harassment”.
The Supreme Court declared that the technology used must be examined to see if it meets “standards of integrity, verification, security and transparency”.
In the first round of voting, Mr. It must also determine whether Ruto won more than 50% of the vote. If this is not the case, the country will go to the second round which is unprecedented in its history.
– Uncertain Horizon –
If a majority of the seven justices invalidates the results, a new referendum must be held within 60 days.
But a new electoral arrangement promises to be complicated. Raila Odinga has already demanded that Wafula Chebukati not oversee any new elections.
In 2017, after canceling the August election, he boycotted the October one, the IEBC – already Mr. led by Chebukati – alleged that it was no longer credible.
If the Supreme Court upholds the results, William Ruto will become the fifth president since independence in 1963, at the age of 55. But if the competitor’s victory is confirmed, Mr. No one can predict the reaction of Odinga’s supporters.
Both sides have promised to respect the Supreme Court’s verdict.
But for Moses Mungai, there is uncertainty. Already hard hit by the epidemic, his flower business suffered again on August 9 and the following days in the deserted streets of Nairobi.
“People are not leaving their homes,” explains the 55-year-old trader, who expects to experience the same situation from Monday: “People are afraid that there will be conflicts. They will close (shops) and wait for everything to be okay. »