By Taylor Cain
The Kenyan Supreme Court announced Sept. 20 that it nullified the results of its Aug. 8 presidential election after the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) failed to verify the results.
IEBC declared incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta the winner with 54 percent of the vote, Tthe New York Times reported, and opposition leader Raila Odinga took 44 percent. More than 19.7 million votes separate the two candidates, CNNreported.
Odinga disputed the election results, and the Supreme Court asked IEBC to give them access to the computer servers., but they refused to comply with the request, The New York Times reported.
Supreme Court Justice Philomena Mwilu said the court assumes the electronic voting system was compromised or their data was interfered with, CNN reported. The unwillingness of the IEBC to give judges access to the computer further serves the court’s suspicions.
The official results were based on the electronic tally, and the IEBC declared Kenyatta the winner before verifying the results with the paper tally sheets, The New York Times said. Some of the paper sheets examined by the Supreme Court lacked legitimacy markers such as water marks, signatures, and serial numbers.
Judges have faced death threats since their investigation into the election began in August. Chief Justice David Maraga criticized the police for not doing anything about it, and Al Jazeera reported that the Human Rights Watch urged the Kenyan police to protect the justices. Maraga told CNN that regardless of the threats, the justices are “prepared to pay the ultimate price to protect the constitution and the rule of law.”
Post-election violence was minimal, according to The New York Times, with around two deaths. The election was generally peaceful compared to the 1000 people who were killed in the 2007 post-election violence, according to CNN.
The Supreme Court called for re-elections within 60 days of their announcement, and the new election is scheduled for Oct. 26, Al Jazeera reported.
The opposition party said they refused to participate in the new election unless members of the electoral commission were prosecuted, CNN reported. Odinga called on the commission for “legal and constitutional guarantees” for a free, fair, and transparent election, but will still challenge Kenyatta in October.
Former US Secretary of State, John Kerry, was in Kenya as an election observer and told CNN, “I think there is great legitimacy in the basic process” of paper ballots – only if everyone followed the process and no one altered the ballots