Kenya politics: Quick View - Supreme Court delivers full judgement

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Economist Intelligence Unit
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The Supreme Court, in a full judgement delivered on September 20th, said that its earlier decision (on September 1st) to annul the result of the presidential election (held on August 8th) and demand a re-run was based on numerous instances of illegal behaviour by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).


The keenly awaited verdict, delivered by the deputy chief justice, Philomena Mwilu, and the chief justice, David Maraga, outlined widespread rule-breaking by the IEBC, in terms of tallying and transmitting the results, and in failing to protect the integrity of its computer systems, which were subject to unauthorised access. Opposition claims that the systems were "hacked" remain unproven, said the judges, but the IEBC's refusal to grant court-sanctioned access to its servers raised deep suspicions, suggesting a cover-up. The IEBC also failed to explain why extra votes were seemingly cast in the presidential election and why the results were not transmitted in a legal fashion. The number of anomalies damaged the credibility of the presidential election-which was "neither transparent nor verifiable", nor in accord with the constitution, said the judges-thereby justifying the court's majority decision to order a re-run. Voter registration and identification, as well as vote counting at constituency level, were nonetheless mostly fraud-free.

The full judgement adds clarity to the original ruling but does not, as some had hoped, blame particular individuals or give instructions about the re-run, apart from simply requiring the IEBC to conduct future elections in accordance with the law. The court did not address divisions between the IEBC commissioners and secretariat, and between the individual commissioners, or refer to other contentious issues, such as the award of a new ballot-printing contract, or the choice of an election date, provided it is held by end-October, as mandated in the constitution. The IEBC has named October 17th for the re-run, but a short extension seems probable, given the time needed for planning and for resolving disputes. The Supreme Court will need to make additional election-related judgements, starting on September 21st with a case challenging the IEBC's plan to restrict the re-run to the two main candidates, Uhuru Kenyatta (Jubilee Party) and Raila Odinga (National Super Alliance).

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