Supreme court has declared the results of last month’s presidential election invalid and ordered a new vote. Incumbent Uhuru Kenyatta won 54% of the now-nullified vote, defeating opposition leader Raila Odinga.
Chief justice David Maraga said the presidential election held on Aug. 8 “was not conducted in accordance with the constitution… rendering the declared results invalid, null, void.” The court ordered the electoral commission to hold a “fresh presidential election” within 60 days.
Cheers outside the courtroom and across Nairobi could be heard, with crowds chanting “Uhuru must go!”
Odinga had petitioned the court to examine the results of the Aug 8 elections, which his party claimed were rigged in favor of Kenyatta. The electoral commission denied the results were hacked, but the court invalidated the election with a majority of five of seven judges. The dissenters, Jackton Ojwang’ and Njoki Ndung’u, said none of the irregularities “occurred deliberately and in bad faith.”
The court said it will deliver its full judgment within the next 21 days. “Given the tons of materials placed before us, it was not humanly to go through that record and write a well considered judgment,” chief justice David Maraga said.
After results of the Aug 8 election were released protests in parts of Nairobi and Kisumu, an Odinga stronghold, led to clashes with police—at least 28 Kenyans were killed, including a 10-year old girl in Nairobi and a six-month old baby in Kisumu. Locals and foreign observers worry about a repeat of Kenya’s 2007 election, when disputed results ended in post-election violence that claimed the lives of at least 1,600 people and displaced more than half a million. Odinga also disputed the results of the 2013 election.
Today, Odinga said that the court’s decision was “a first in the history of African democratization.” Odinga, surrounded by supporters in front of the supreme court offices in Nairobi, called the ruling “a triumph for the people of Kenya.”
Kenyatta’s lawyer, meanwhile, dismissed the court’s move as a “political decision.”
Kenya’s most recent election, the most expensive in the country’s history, was marred by fake news, protests, and self-censorship of local media. But in other ways, the election was a success. Voter turnout was high, with more than 15 million out of 19.6 million registered voters casting their ballots. Two-thirds of local legislators were voted out, and 25 of 47 governors did not win a second term.