-September 05, 2022, News/Comments
Kenya’s Supreme Court has ruled that William Ruto was properly elected president, dismissing several petitions seeking to annul the result of the 9 August election. His rival, Raila Odinga, and others had alleged that massive fraud, including tampering with results forms, had taken place. Mr Ruto garnered 50.5% of the vote in the closely fought election. The 55-year-old will be sworn in as the country’s fifth president next week.
In a devastating and scathing judgement, the eight petitions challenging the elections were all dismissed.The court found some were based on forged documents and “sensational information”, Chief Justice Martha Koome said in a unanimous decision on behalf of the seven judges. No credible evidence that the electronic voting transmission system had been tampered with by “a middle man” was presented, she said. Ms Koome also said that Mr Ruto had met the constitutional threshold of garnering 50%+1 of votes cast.
The ruling ends a protracted election dispute that started after polls closed last month. Mr Odinga’s team had used the dissent of four of the seven electoral commissioners – who disowned the poll results because they had fallen out with the chairman – to bolster his case. But the court, while noting the “dysfunction” of the commission in managing its internal affairs, said it was not convinced that the claims of the chairman running a one-man show was enough to undermine the election. “Are we to nullify the outcome of an election on the basis of a last-minute boardroom rupture whose details remain scanty?” the judges asked. The judges also reprimanded lawyers and petitioners who filed falsified documents in court – a rebuke meant to deter spurious petitions in the future. The ruling prompted celebrations in Mr Ruto’s home area of the Rift Valley and parts of the Central Province where his running mate hails from.
In Mr Odinga’s stronghold of Kisumu, there is a subdued atmosphere. Streets are deserted and some businesses have closed for the day. President Uhuru Kenyatta, who was backing Mr Odinga, is expected to address the country shortly. Kenyans will now be watching the political repercussions of Mr Ruto’s win for the main players. Mr Odinga has now lost five elections. At 77 it’s hard to see how he will run again or even if he will remain active in opposition politics, though his statement rejecting Monday’s ruling says he will continue with the “struggle for transparency, accountability and democracy”.
As for outgoing President Kenyatta, who worked hard to prevent his deputy from succeeding him, it will be interesting to see if their relationship remains strained. Most importantly, Kenya has shown that it can resolve elections disputes without resorting to the violence we have seen in the past.
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