Kenya: Court’s election ruling spurs hope, raises fears of violence

Kenya: Court’s election ruling spurs hope, raises fears of violence

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Photo 1: Chief Justice David Maraga

Tensions have remained high since Kenya’s Supreme Court annulled the results of the contentious presidential election Friday, September 1 and ordered a new election within 60 days.

After initially appearing to accept the decision, President Uhuru Kenyatta on Saturday went on the offensive, stating there was a problem with the judiciary and he was going to fix it.

“We shall revisit this thing. We clearly have a problem,Who even elected you? … We have a problem and we must fix it,” he said, speaking on live television.

Mr Kenyatta has said he will respect the ruling and called for calm amid fears of unrest.

Deputy President William Ruto has called on the electoral commission to set a date for fresh presidential elections, saying the governing Jubilee Party is ready.

But opposition candidate RailaOdinga wants the commission replaced, saying it has lost credibility.

Friday’s ruling is believed to be the first time in Africa that a court has ruled against the electoral win of an incumbent based on a court challenge by the opposition.

Chief Justice David Maraga said the 8 August election had not been conducted in accordance with the constitution, declaring it “invalid, null and void”.The ruling did not attribute any blame to President Kenyatta’s party or campaign.

The annulment of the election result was a rare win for supporters of the veteran opposition candidate RailaOdinga, who brought the case against Kenyatta’s win to the Supreme Court.

This year’s election bid was the fourth attempt for the 72-year-old, whose father was Kenya’s first vice president.

MrOdingasaid the ruling marked “a historic day for the people of Kenya and by extension for the people of the continent of Africa”.

Kenya’s election commission had declared Mr Kenyatta the winner by a margin of 1.4 million votes but the result was immediately challenged in court by his nearest rival, MrOdinga.

Following the election, international monitors from the EU, the African Union and the US had said there was no major fraud and urged MrOdinga to concede.

Photo 2: Protests broke out last month in Kenya after the reelection of President Uhuru Kenyatta, a result now invalidated by the country’s Supreme Court.

Fears of violence

Many are fearful that the Supreme Court’s ruling and the new, hardened stance from the President could spark a new wave of violence.

One of the potential flashpoints, and an area that is being closely watched, is the Kibera slum.

Police helicopters hover over the dense and impoverished district of Kibera, the biggest slum in Africa and a tinderbox mix of different tribes and ethnicities, ranging from the Luo to the predominantly Muslim Nubians who were the original settlers.

Today, the sprawling landscape is dotted with corrugated iron roof shacks amid mounds of rubbish and some brightly colored buildings.

Although the unrest in this year’s vote was not as serious as in 2007, days of sporadic protests left at least 28 people dead.

 

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