Kenya’s Supreme Court on Friday invalidated the result of last month’s contentious presidential election citing irregularities and ordered a new one within 60 days.
Four out of six judges upheld a petition filed by opposition candidate Raila Odinga, who claimed the re-election of President Uhuru Kenyatta on August 8 was fraudulent, CNN reported.
The Election Commission had declared incumbent Uhuru Kenyatta the winner by a margin of 1.4 million votes.
“The presidential elections on August 8 were not conducted in accordance with the Constitution, rendering the declared results invalid null and void,” Chief Justice David Maraga said, ordering fresh elections.
In a decision that surprised many observers, the court agreed with opposition arguments that the Electoral Commission had committed irregularities that invalidated the poll.
The Chief Justice said the verdict was backed by four of the six Supreme Court judges. The court ruling did not attribute any blame to President Kenyatta’s party or campaign.
Opposition leader Odinga was jubilant as he welcomed what he called a “precedent-setting ruling” by the court.
“For the first time in the history of African democratisation, a ruling has been made by a court nullifying the election of a President,” he said.
“This indeed is a very historic day for the people of Kenya and by extension the people of the continent of Africa.”
Odinga also railed against the national election body, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission. “We have no faith in the electoral commission as currently constituted.”
President Kenyatta’s lead counsel Ahmednassir Abdulahi said in court that his client wanted to see the full judgement to understand how the alleged irregularities would “obliterate” his 1.4 million vote winning margin.
Kenyatta, in a televised address, said that it was “important to respect the rule of law even if you disagree with the Supreme Court ruling”.
He called for calm, saying: “Let us be a people of peace. We are ready to go back again to the people with the same agenda that we delivered to the people,” he added, looking ahead to the next vote.”
As news of the court’s decision spread, cheers and celebrations could be heard on the streets in parts of the capital, Nairobi.