Kenya's repeat election: Good for democracy or bad?

Remigio Civitarese
Settembre 13, 2017

The New Independence Group (NIG) notes that with the judgement, peace has returned to Kenya which had been thrown into spontaneous street protests after the controversial result declared the incumbent President Kenyatta as re-elected.We praise the Kenyan most senior court for the courage exhibited in the judgement, a rare occurrence in Africa where politics is generally regarded as a call to war against opponents, and elections are seen as mini-wars for power acquisition, where people of opposing political tendencies and support routinely lose lives and limbs while the courts look away. "This is a precedent-setting ruling", he added.

The decision by Kenya's Supreme Court to annul the results of August presidential election has been hailed by some countries but a new vote will open up the country to economic uncertainty and possibility of violence.

He said such threats and attacks represented an affront to the Rule of Law in any democracy. In the 2013 election, the Supreme Court upheld Kenyatta's victory over Odinga despite the latter's claim of electoral fraud and subsequent petition.

"It took Muthoni Wanyeki, serving as Amnesty International's East Africa Regional Director during the election to assert that with its decision of the 2017 poll the customarily pliable Kenyan Supreme Court has redeemed itself".

African nations have a reputation of electoral malpractice ranging from voter suppression like in the 2013 Zimbabwean general election to intimidating the opposition like in the 2016 Equatorial Guinean presidential election.

It is a matter of concern for us at the NIG that, in Nigeria the courts have not displayed the forthrightness and fearlessness, especially in presidential elections, as demonstrated in Kenya, even when the facts appear simple and straight-forward, to the dismay of litigants.

There is, of course, a significance to the Kenya Supreme Court ruling that goes beyond Kenya itself, extending into the wider issue of elections'controversy and the role of elections observers in helping to validate elections processes in other countries. Electoral fraud has sustained authoritarianism in many of Africa's democratic nations, and the continent has suffered for it.

"They should have come to show that the country is moving in the right direction", he noted.

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