The decision to cancel the vote result, the first of its kind in Kenya’s history, sets up a new race for the presidency between Kenyatta and veteran opposition leader Raila Odinga.
East Africa’s biggest economy has a history of disputed elections. A row over the 2007 poll, which Odinga challenged after being declared loser, was followed by weeks of ethnic bloodshed in which more than 1,200 were killed.
Many voters in the west of Kenya, Odinga’s stronghold, and along the coast, where there is also traditionally large support for the opposition, feel neglected by the central government and shut out of power.
Odinga has contested the last three elections and lost each time. Each time, he has claimed the votes were marred by rigging. In 2013, the Supreme Court dismissed his petition.
This time, his team focused on proving that the process for tallying and transmitting results was flawed, rather than proving how much of the vote was rigged.
Meanwhile, Devolution CS Mwangi Kiunjuri has described the ruling by Supreme Court as a decision of five judges who have only strengthened the will and resolve of Jubilee supporters. In his statement he said that they won fairly and are not afraid of an election.
Kieni Mp Kanini Kega was also dismayed by the judgment and termed the ruling as shocking and added that Parliament will not allow plans to kick out IEBC. Muranga Senator Irungu Kangata termed the verdict as premature because the judges did not read all the submissions. In his ruling Chief Justice David Maraga said that the IEBC committed various illegalities affecting the integrity of the polls. In a split decision, CJ Maraga, his deputy Philemena Mwilu, Judges Smokin Wanjala, Isaac Lenaola, upheld the petition on the grounds that the election had not been conducted in accordance with the Constitution. Judge Njoki Ndung’u and Jackton Ojwang’ dissented.
The next election must be held within 60 days. In NASA strongholds of Kisumu, Kakamega, Mathare and Kibera Raila Odinga’s supporters thronged the streets to celebrate Supreme Court’s decision.