Kenya’s Supreme Court on Monday ordered a partial recount of ballots from the March 4 presidential election after losing candidate Raila Odinga alleged there were more votes cast at some polling stations than there were registered voters. A swift and transparent resolution of the dispute that has unnerved the stock market is seen as critical to restoring the reputation of Kenya as a stable democracy after violence following the 2007 election left more than 1,200 dead. This year’s election passed peacefully though and went a long way to restoring Kenya’s image. International observers said the voting was broadly credible, but the count then went for five days and monitors did not follow the entire process. Odinga has said there was “rampant illegality” in the first-round victory of his long-term rival Uhuru Kenyatta. The son of Kenya’s founding president, Kenyatta said the voting was “free and fair”. Adjudicating between the two political heavyweights is seen as a major test for the country’s reformed judiciary.
Chief Justice Willy Mutunga has repeatedly said the Supreme Court would handle the dispute fairly.
“We shall render our judgment without fear or favor of anyone or anything, devoid of ill-will towards any persons or affection towards any cause that is partisan, unconstitutional, or illegal,” Mutunga said at the start of Monday’s session.
“In the end, you must trust us to do our job.”
Monday was the first of two days of pre-trial hearings. The Supreme Court said the main hearings would be held on Wednesday and Thursday. By law, the court has till Saturday to rule.
The Supreme Court’s verdict on the case is final, and both Odinga and Kenyatta have said they will abide by its decision.