Kenya politics: Quick View - Supreme Court receives petitions challenging election

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Economist Intelligence Unit
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Politics, News Analysis, Forecast, Political stability
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The Supreme Court will adjudicate on the rerun of the presidential election after receiving two separate petitions challenging the outcome by the deadline of November 6th, seven days after the results were announced.


The incumbent, Uhuru Kenyatta, won the rerun (held on October 6th) by a massive margin but with a sharply reduced turnout (38%) following a boycott by the National Super Alliance (Nasa), the main opposition group. Nasa and its leader, Raila Odinga, are not among the election petitioners, however, perhaps reflecting their new focus on the boycott, which is now being extended to goods and services provided by firms supposedly linked to the ruling Jubilee Party. Nasa's unwillingness to petition may also reflect a shortage of funds and their distrust of institutions, especially the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).

Instead, the petitioners are Harun Mwau (a former member of parliament), and two civil society activists (Njonjo Mue and Khalef Khalifa), who are asking the Supreme Court to annul the result of the rerun because the irregularities identified by the court in the original August 8th election had not been corrected. They also question the validity of the rerun because of the Nasa boycott and the IEBC's failure to hold a vote in some opposition heartlands. The issues raised by the petitioners are the same as those that would have been made by Nasa but, coming from non-participants rather than disgruntled candidates, their arguments may carry less weight.

Unless the court throws out the petitions before assessing them (because of some legal technicality), the judges, led by the chief justice, David Maraga, will deliver their verdict no later than November 20th-14 days after receiving the petitions. They may accept the rerun, order another rerun (within 60 days), or call for a fresh elections (within 90 days), with a split decision probable, as was the case in the original annulment (by a 4-2 majority). The Supreme Court's ruling on the petitions is impossible to predict, but Nasa's decision to avoid a direct legal challenge makes it more likely the court will accept the rerun, especially as ordering another rerun may not resolve the impasse.

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