I wrote an article about elections in Kenya days after we went to polls. Most of us have survived, while a few are dead. We thought we had a “winner” so they announced, it was about 8pm in the evening. If we lived in those darker days, ……’darker because those days we are living in are dark’….We would have somebody declared winner and sworn in the next minute. It will not matter if it was dark. But thanks to those who fought for the new constitution, and those who died protecting her survival…….our days are dark and not darker.
Once the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission’s declares a winner, any person may file a petition in the Supreme Court to challenge the election of the President-elect within seven days after the date of the declaration of the results of the presidential election. Within fourteen days after the filing of a petition under clause (1), the Supreme Court shall hear and determine the petition and its decision shall be final. If the Supreme Court determines the election of the President- elect to be invalid, a fresh election shall be held within sixty days after the determination.
News flash, this is where we are today. In a historic ruling and a first in Africa, Kenya’s Supreme Court nullified on Friday the re-election of a sitting president, ordering a new vote to be held within 60 days after finding that the outcome last month had been tainted by irregularities, a stunning move by the judiciary.
But this time, figures across the Kenyan political landscape, including the president whose victory was wiped away, appeared to accept the decision and called on supporters to do the same.
The ruling also offered a potent display of judicial independence on a continent where courts often come under intense pressure from political leaders, analysts said.
The Supreme Court decision came as a surprise, even to Mr. Odinga and his supporters, who had complained about election irregularities. A top election official in charge of voting technology was killed about a week before the election, and although the casting of ballots went smoothly, the electronic transmission of vote tallies was flawed, leading the opposition to assert that as many as seven million votes had been stolen.
The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, which was in charge of the vote, “failed, neglected, or refused to conduct the presidential election in a manner consistent with the dictates of the Constitution,” the court said.
The six-judge Supreme Court found no misconduct on the part of the president, Mr. Kenyatta, but it found that the commission “committed irregularities and illegalities in the transmission of results” and unspecified other issues.
“Irregularities affected the integrity of the poll,” Justice Maraga told a stunned courtroom.
A new vote means that candidates will have to start campaigning again and possibly raise millions of dollars: Elections in Kenya generally cost about $1 billion, including spending by the candidates during the campaign and by the government to hold the election.
Kenyans have long complained that getting any official business done requires a “kitu kidogo”, Swahili for “a little something” or bribe, a frustration that is echoed across Africa.
But Kenya has slowly rebuilt confidence in its judiciary after the post-2007 vote violence. A new constitution in 2010 demanded reforms of the judiciary and other public institutions.
Maraga, who has risen the ranks as those reforms have been implement, was known by colleagues for his strict adherence to the rules even as a young lawyer.
A devout Christian of the Seventh Day Adventist tradition, he built his practice in the Rift Valley city of Nakuru rather than to Nairobi where he where he could have secured more high profile cases and would have more easily rubbed shoulders with the rich and powerful, his colleagues said.
There is no doubt that Kenya has risen to a new day, other African countries are following in a distance. The new elections might cost us 1 billion shillings, or even more, but let’s not forget that the results should reflect the will of the people, the true will of the people. And then, after we will dance with the winner to the podium while we console the loser.