In the afternoon of Monday, the 22nd day of August 2022, long-time Kenyan oppostition leader – now presidential candidate for the Azimio la Umoja coalition party – Raila Odinga filed a petition at the Supreme Court seeking to overturn the outcome of the presidential election held on 9th of August.
This is the first step in a series of ten steps that are expected to culminate in a verdict to be delivered in 14 days’ time. Chief Justice Martha Koome will lead a team of six other judges in hearing and determining the petition.
Raila Odinga who also doubles up as the leader of Azimo la Umoja – One Kenya coalition party has assembled a legal team consisting of experienced lawyers led by Siaya governor James Orengo.
This team has presented their case against IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati who has sought the services of former Attoney General, Githu Muigai. President-elect and current deputy president, William Ruto, of the Kenya Kwanza Coalition is taking cover under his legal team led by Fred Ngatia who also featured in the past presidential election petitions.
This feels like Deja vu because it will be the third consecutive time Mr. Odinga is challenging presidential election results. The most recent case being the one in 2017 when the former premier successfully litigated against the re-election of President Uhuru Kenyatta. The NASA ticket of Raila Odinga and a Kalonzo Musyoka running mate had presented the court with ‘watertight’ evidence.
His claim was that the voting system had been hacked and compromised. Despite the historic victory at the Supreme Court, which was a first in the whole of the African Continent and even outside, Odinga’s side pulled a surprise move by boycotting the repeat election on account of wanting reforms at the electoral body.
Just like 2017, should this year’s results be annulled it will undoubtedly leave the credibility of the IEBC in question. Can it still be trusted to conduct elections in future? Furthermore, the compromise and errors in the gubernatorial election forms of Kakamega and Mombasa counties that led to the last minute postponement of elections in the two counties lift a lid on the unpreparedness despite having a five year period to prepare for the general elections.
Someone would correctly think that this was enough time for preparation to ensure Kenyans have a simple, transparent, fair and verifiable elections as stated by the David Maraga led bench in their nullification of the results from the first round of voting in the 2017 presidential contest.
It is expected that the four IEBC commissioners led by the deputy chairperson of the commission Juliana Cherera alongside Francis Wanderi, Justus Nyang’aya and Irene Masit will come before the court to support their claims that they would not take ownership of the election results due to the ‘opaque’ nature of the process.
Will they appear in court to defend their statement, with evidence of course, and are there going to be consequences to utterance of such words?, bearing in mind the weight they carry. Elections have always been a very sensitive, even emotive, issue in a democratic country like Kenya.
Fortunately for Kenyans, new measures were taken this time of having a public portal where anyone could access and tally for themselves to reduce claims of elections irregularities. Not many countries have that kind of democratic priviledge.
Are there any more measures the commission can make to fault-proof the system of any shortcomings? Even when a new chairman is appointed or is the decadence if any, too rooted in it that we will have to do away with it all together. What will be the future of Kenya’s electoral commission?