Opposition goes to court after Kenyan presidential elections

Kenyan opposition leader voting in the presidential election, August 8th, 2017

The National Super Alliance (NASA) Coalition has decided to go to court to object the results of the presidential elections held last week.

Speaking to the media yesterday, NASA’s candidate Raila Odinga said they had decided to litigate in response to the government’s crackdown on civil society organizations that fight for democracy and human rights.

Initially, the coalition had said that it would not go to court, even after it had disputed the results that the Independent and Electoral Boundaries Commission (IEBC) had used to declare President Uhuru Kenyatta duly elected.

Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) and African Centre for Governance (AfriCog) were the first to cast doubt on the election results, citing discrepancies between what the IEBC displayed at its elections tallying center, and what the civil society’s observers collected on the ground.

NASA claims President Uhuru was declared the winner in what he termed as fraudulent and computer-generated results. Odinga says the results’ announcement was based on  “shamelessly” cooked results, some from non-existent polling stations and from “fake” and “ungazetted” presiding and returning officers.

Violence erupted after President Uhuru Kenyatta was declared the winner of the elections last Friday night. The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) says 24 people have been killed across the country in cases of police brutality since the election results were announced.

However, the police have denied these allegations, saying those who were killed were criminals who were armed with guns and who were intent on committing crime. Among those who were reported dead were a nine year old girl in Nairobi County, and a six-month old girl in Kisumu County, in western Kenya.

On Tuesday morning, the offices of AfriCOG were raided by police officers and officers from the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA). This was after the Non-governmental Organization’s Coordination Board accused the NGO of operating illegally and failing to meet its tax obligations.

The US Ambassador in Kenya Robert Godec was among envoys who demanded that the government immediately reverse the NGO Coordination Board’s action against AfriCOG. The order was later revoked.

According to the Kenyan laws, a presidential election petition must be filed within seven days after the declaration of the results. The Supreme Court then has to hear and conclude the case within 14 day of filing of the case.

The seven judges who sit in the Supreme Court will have a pre-trial conference for eight days from the time of filing of the petition, and the hearing will commence immediately thereafter. The judges will have six days to hear the dispute and reach a decision.

Depending on the outcome of the case, the president will either be sworn in or the court may order for a rerun or recount of the votes, depending on the plea made before the court and the findings the court will make.

This is not the first time this is happening. In 2013, Odinga filed a petition in the Supreme Court challenging the election of President Kenyatta. The petition failed and the court upheld the election of President Uhuru.