Kenyan Politician Files Petition to Overturn Result of Repeat Election

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A Kenyan politician lodged a petition at the Supreme Court challenging the validity of last month’s repeat presidential elections, arguing the vote breached the law and wasn’t free and fair.

The petition was filed by Harun Mwau, a former legislator, the Judiciary’s spokeswoman, Lilian Mueni, said by phone from the capital, Nairobi.

The Independent Electoral & Boundaries Commission proceeded with the Oct. 26 vote rerun despite opposition candidate Raila Odinga’s withdrawal. The vote itself was marred by violence and intimidation, which forced its cancellation in some areas.

President Uhuru Kenyatta, 56, was declared to have won 98.3 percent of ballots cast in the rerun, which Odinga boycotted after the electoral agency refused to heed his demands to fire staff and change voting procedures. While the agency defended the election, the opposition dismissed it as a sham and said the final results it released were doctored. Voter turnout slumped to 38.8 percent, from 79 percent in an Aug. 8 contest that was nullified by the nation’s top court after the commission failed to disprove the opposition’s claim of rigging.

The Supreme Court, which comprises seven judges, must deliver a ruling on the electoral challenge within 14 days. A new vote must be held within 60 days if the court overturns Kenyatta’s victory for a second time.

It was unclear whether the violence and intimidation that occurred and the fact that some people were unable to cast ballots would justify the election’s nullification, according to Charles Kanjama, managing partner at law firm Muma & Kanjama Advocates.

“The legal situation is unclear,” Kanjama said by phone from Nairobi. “These are matters that have not been determined before. It can go either way.”

The prolonged election standoff is undermining Kenya’s reputation as one of Africa’s top investment destinations and a regional hub for companies including Google Inc. and Coca-Cola Co. While human rights groups say as many as 80 people have died in election-related violence since the August vote, police say they’ve only recorded 19 deaths.

Odinga, a former prime minister who failed in bids to secure the presidency in 1997, 2007 and 2013, has vowed mass resistance against what he considers an illegitimate government and is urging his supporters to boycott products from three firms seen as aiding Kenyatta’s administration: mobile operator Safaricom Ltd.; Brookside Dairies Ltd., which is part-owned by Kenyatta’s family; and Bidco Refineries Ltd., an edible oils manufacturer.

 

bloomberg.com

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