Kenya’s Supreme Court on Monday unanimously dismissed petitions calling for the nullification of Kenya’s re-run presidential elections held last month in the East African country, and in essence upholding the election held in October. Two separate petitions were submitted challenging the authenticity of the elections, but the Supreme Court has confirmed that the election results were valid. “The court has unanimously determined that the petitions are not merited and the final orders are that the petition by John Harun Mwau [submitted the petition] versus the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission and two others as consolidated is hereby dismissed.” This decision could be another turning point in Kenya’s history.
This is surely going to be good news for Kenya’s president Uhuru Kenyatta, who would have been hoping his inevitable win at the re-run elections wouldn’t suffer another setback. Kenya’s Supreme Court made history in September after it became the first African court to nullify a presidential election. Kenya’s presidential elections, which incumbent Kenyatta won, was annulled because they were “neither transparent nor verifiable.” A re-run election, initially supported by opposition candidate Raila Odinga, and then was not, was held and ensured a win for Uhuru Kenyatta. Kenyatta’s win was also helped by his ethnicity, a major player in Kenyan elections.
While Kenyatta is from the biggest tribe in Kenya, the Kikuyu, Odinga is from the fourth highest populous tribe, Luo. Both elections were split across ethnic lines with Kenyatta’s voters coming from people in his and his running mate’s tribes. Odinga had votes from members of his tribe and other tribes represented in the opposition coalition, but they were not enough in the first election. In the re-run, members of his base all refused to vote, mirroring Odinga’s refusal to contest. Kenyatta won by a landslide, which has also seemed to trigger voices of secession. Kenya’s presidential election turmoil has taken mainstream, the marginal secession idea in Kenya, according to a Kenyan political analyst Abdullahi Boru who spoke with South Africa’s News24.
A member of parliament from Odinga’s NASA coalition, the coalition of opposition parties in Kenya, submitted an ammendment bill last week calling for a Kenyan constitution split to allow the departure of 40 counties out of Kenya’s 47. In the bill, the 40 counties will form the ‘People’s Republic of Kenya’ while the remaining seven would be called the ‘Central Republic of Kenya’. The purveyor of the bill, Peter Kaluma, accused Kenyatta of “political assassinations, manipulations of ethnic census and voter register, flagrant rigging of elections, systematic suppression of other groups and communities to retain political and economic power”.
Kenyatta’s win confirmed at the Supreme Court today could further alienate some parts of the country who feel they will continue to be denied political representation at Nairobi as long as Kenyatta continues as president. In the event that none of the two houses of parliament in Kenya adopt the bill, it will be subjected to a referendum. It seems there is no going back for Kenya.