Kenya’s Supreme Court yesterday nullified president Uhuru Kenyatta’s election win last month as unconstitutional and called for new elections within 60 days, shocking a country that had been braced for further protests by opposition supporters.
Mr Kenyatta said he “personally disagrees” with the ruling but respects it, but he lashed out at the judges, saying that “six people have decided they will go against the will of the people”. He also called for peace in a country where some elections have been followed by deadly violence.
No presidential election in the East African economic hub has ever been nullified. Opposition members danced in the streets, marveling at the setback for Mr Kenyatta, the son of the country’s first president, in the long rivalry between Kenya’s leading political families.
“It’s a very historic day for the people of Kenya and by extension the people of Africa,” said opposition candidate Raila Odinga, who had challenged the vote.
“For the first time, a ruling has been made by a court nullifying irregular election of a president. This is a precedent-setting ruling.”
The six-judge bench ruled 4-2 in favour of the petition filed by Mr Odinga. He claimed the electronic voting results were hacked into and manipulated in favour of Mr Kenyatta, who had won a second term with 54 percent of the vote.
“A declaration is hereby issued that the presidential election on 8 August was not conducted in accordance to the constitution and applicable law, rendering the results invalid, null and void,” Chief Justice David Maraga said.
The court did not place blame on Mr Kenyatta or his party. It said the election commission “committed illegalities and irregularities ... in the transmission of results, substance of which will be given in the detailed judgment of the court” that will be published within 21 days.
Mr Odinga called for the election commission to be disbanded and said the opposition will ask that electoral officials be prosecuted.
The lead counsel for the president, Ahmednassir Abdulahi, told the court that the nullification was a “very political decision” but said they will live with the consequences.
Mr Odinga’s lawyer had asked the court to invalidate Mr Kenyatta’s win, saying a scrutiny of the forms used to tally the votes had anomalies that affected nearly five million votes.
The electoral commission had said there was a hacking attempt but it failed. International election observers, including former US Secretary of State John Kerry, had said they saw no interference in the vote.