Violence Erupts after Kenyan election overturned | by Darren Mikus
The Supreme Court of Kenya overturned the results of the country’s August presidential election on Sept. 1, 2017, setting off protests and rallies throughout the country.
The decision came as Uhuru Kenyatta, the incumbent president, was declared the winner by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission. His competitor, Raila Odinga, leader of the opposition, stated that the election was rigged and the electronic voting system was hacked.
Kenyatta, the son of the country’s founder Jomo Kenyatta, has been president since 2013 and received 54 percent of the vote in the latest election.
Protests erupted in the aftermath of the election, in which 24 people were killed and 93 injured, according to CNN. The youngest victim was a 9-year-old girl, Stabhay Mokaya.
“There were three kids playing in the balcony of the fourth floor,” said her father Wycliff Mokaya, “and then all of a sudden there was a gunshot which hit the young girl.”
Most of the violence was concentrated in the cities of Kisumu and the capital Nairobi, where 17 people were killed. The majority of the protesters were supporters of Odinga. Kenyatta called for peace at the start of the protests.
“Fellow Kenyans, elections come and go but Kenya is here to stay. Let us always remember that we are all brothers and sisters,” he tweeted after the result was declared Friday.
The Supreme Court’s decision was surprising, since the court had not overturned disputed election results in 2013 or 2007. James Orengo, a member of Parliament and ally of Odinga, said that “going to court is not an alternative–we have been there before,” according to The Economist.
In a preliminary statement, the court says that it found “no evidence of misconduct” from Kenyatta. It also stated that there was no evidence to corroborate Odinga’s claim that the electronic voting system was hacked by the government. They did find, however, that the IEBC committed serious “irregularities and illegalities” in supervising the election, especially with the transmission of votes from polling stations to tallying centers. This, in their opinion, was enough to annul the results.
Odinga and his coalition, the National Super Alliance hailed the decision, declaring that a “new Kenya has been born.”
Kenyatta, while initially respecting the decision of the court in interviews, has called the judges “crooks” and claimed that “whites” and “homosexuals” were responsible for the verdict.
The court stated that a new election should be held by Oct. 31, with one tentatively scheduled for Oct. 17. Odinga stated, however, that he will not participate “without legal and constitutional guarantees.”
“We know exactly what transpired in these last elections, we know what the IEBC did and we know that if we were to go back, there will be no different results and that’s why we’ll say there will be no election on Oct. 17” he said, according to BBC News.
The Supreme Court’s full ruling will be made public within 21 days. Arguments have begun over the date of the new election, with Odinga and NASA pushing for a later date.
Editor’s Note: Information from BBC News, CNN and The Economist was used in this report.