- A tale of a vote, a defeat, a complain, a cancellation…and a re-run
What happened in Kenya? The country organised on August 8, 2017, both parliamentary and presidential elections. For the third time in 10 years, the main contenders were Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga. In 2007, an estimated 1,300.00 Kenyans died in electoral-related violence. U. Kenyatta, the outgoing President, was officially reelected with 54,27% of the vote. Some violent events took place around the elections this time again. R. Odinga, (44,74%), filed a petition at the Supreme Court. The petition focused on issues about the transmission of the results by the electoral commission. On September 1st, the Chief Justice declared the August election “invalid, null and void” because of irregularities regarding the transmission of the results by the electoral commission. The detailed decision should be provided within 21 days and the re-run of the election should take place within 60 days by the end of October 2017.
This decision has already resonated across the African continent and the world. It is a historical moment.
Kenyatta declared that he accepted the decision of the court while disagreeing. R. Odinga celebrated but also criticized the electoral commission.
Kenya is one of the 15 countries with planned elections in 2017
For a quick view of the other elections, it is there
- The results are annulled but nothing proves that they are not correct
The electoral commission insisted publicly that the issue is about the transmission of the results but not about the voting or the counting of votes and that it will investigate elections offense. The Supreme court did not declare Odinga as the winner. For now, it focused on a technicality. However, the credibility of the electoral commission is now at stake. It is a debate about rule of law versus legitimacy of a vote. The electoral commission will have to work very hard to be trusted in the re-run. In July, Chris Msando was found killed and apparently tortured. His department within the electoral commission oversaw the voter identification and result transmission…
- What about electoral observation?
The supreme court historical decision raise questions about the role of electoral observation. None of the major mission (AU, EU, Carter Foundation…) seems to have anticipated the court decision. At first glance, it seems to strengthen arguments against their usefulness. But the issue is that for now, the court decision focused on transmission of the results not on counting or the voting activities. It does reveal a weakness about electoral observation and this event should be studied and lessons learned.
The Supreme Court will provide its detailed decision by September 22, 2017. In the meantime, some would say that it is impossible to say that U. Kenyatta’s victory was illegitimate and that R. Odinga is the right victor of August elections. Impossible…but now the results are cancelled.
Many violent incidents have been reported around the elections in August. The new period ahead of Kenya contains many seeds for violence. Cold-blooded leaders and supporters are required to make this new electoral phase a peaceful one.