Is Kenya’s Election in Crisis?
By admin September 29, 2017

In the wake of the annulment of the August 8th election results which nullified the incumbents Uhuru Kenyatta’s victory over Raila Odinga there have been widespread protests, veiled threats and the decisive question of whether Kenya can pull off another election in only 60 days.

The results of the August election were deemed “null and void” by Chief Justice David Maragara of the Supreme Court. There were a number of issues with electronically submitted ballots as well as watermarking and signatures on written submitted ballots that led the court to rule that the results were null and void. The court ruled that the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC)  failed to run a legal or constitutional poll and that the committee which oversees the election would have until the end of September to ensure that the current system was reformed so as to be more transparent and fair. President and incumbent candidate Uhru Kenyatta openly criticized the court for their actions, slamming the judges as crooks and directly targeting the head of the Supreme Court.

Odinga, who disputed the election results soon after the vote count trickled in also ran in 2013, 2007 and 1997 and disputed the results of those election as well. Kenya instituted a democratic system of elected officials as recently as 1992 and in the six presidential elections since 1992, there has been only one instance, the 2002 election, in which the losing party did not dispute the vote count. In 2007 the disputation of the incumbent’s victory led by 2017 candidate Raila Odinga led to ethnic cleansings that left 1,200 dead and 600,000 displaced. Given such history, the current political tensions arising out of this year’s election are the perhaps the first signs of greater political turmoil. This is the first time the Kenyan Supreme court has ruled to nullify election results, despite the majority of elections being contested. The media has hailed this as a major step forward for the democratic process in Kenya. Despite the victory of overturning an election decision the history of contested elections is indicative of a political process which is fraught with problems.

Kenyan elections are often highly contested, as winners must only receive 50 percent of the vote. With such close margins even minor instances of miscounting can affect the election. Furthermore the general lack of transparency in the vote counting garners suspicion about the credibility of the vote counts. Most candidates that ran are in their 70’s and terms are for 5 years so candidates who lose will likely not have a chance to run for re-election which further incentivizes calling for a recount. An incumbent has never lost a bid for re-election. Opposition candidates have often accused incumbents of using stat resources to help them win re-election.

Despite issues, the candidates are back on the campaign trail in preparation for the re-election scheduled for October 6th, though Odinga says he will not participate unless certain requirements are met including the removal of a number of the president’s advisors. Odinga has said that he will peacefully concede if he loses a fair election but he stated that if the election is rigged then people are constitutionally entitled to protest. Whether a second loss will lead to violent protests and a subsequent national effort to quell protests is certainly on the mind of many as the re-election draws closer.

Further Reading:

Odinga: Kenya’s presidential vote results ‘manipulated

Why are Kenya’s elections so bitterly contested?

Odinga: Kenya’s presidential vote results ‘manipulated’

Can Raila Odinga win Kenya’s re-election?

Kenya heading for constitutional crisis




Thanks for sharing !

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