OdingaEast Africa 

Kenya: Supreme Court annuls presidential election in historic ruling

Responding to the Kenyan Supreme Court’s decision to annul last month’s presidential election and order a re-run, Justus Nyang’aya, Country Director at Amnesty International Kenya, said:

“Today’s historic ruling demonstrates the independence of Kenya’s judiciary and sets an example for the rest of the world.

“We urge all parties to comply with the judgement, and call on the police to observe restraint in their handling of any celebrations or protests that may follow this landmark ruling.”

In its judgement this morning, the court said the election was marred by irregularities and was not conducted in accordance with the constitution, and ordered the electoral commission to organize a fresh poll in 60 days.

The decision surprised many in Kenya, where courts have long been subservient to the president. “In the whole world, all eyes were on this supreme court and the judge did the right thing,” said 36-year-old Frederick Oyieng, a nightwatchman.

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Donna Abongo, 39, an accountancy student, said: “It was a surprise because the trend in justice in Kenya is not good, but this time justice has been done.”

Residents in the western city of Kisumu, where Odinga has strong backing, cheered and motorcycle drivers hooted their horns.

Odinga said the court had set an “exceptional example for all of Africa”. “Our judiciary now knows they have the power,” he said. “We thank the supreme court for standing up for the truth.”

Some observers worried that the decision could lead to political chaos. Kenya, east Africa’s biggest economy, has a history of disputed elections and political violence.

But others welcomed a demonstration of the strength of local institutions. “It is a watershed judgment by a court. There is no precedent anywhere in Africa. There is nothing like it,” said Alex Vines, head of the Africa programme at Chatham House, in London. “It’s good news for Kenya. Where you have strengthening institutions you get a better result.”

The Kenyan heads of mission from two dozen countries, including the UK and US, issued a joint statement saying the court’s decision “demonstrated Kenya’s resilient democracy and commitment to rule of law”.

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