Kenya’s supreme court has said it annulled presidential elections held in August because the polls were “neither transparent nor verifiable” and blamed the country’s electoral commission for the shortcomings. Uhuru Kenyatta, the incumbent president of the east African state, won a second term by a margin of 9%, defeating his long-term rival, Raila Odinga, in the election last month. The country now faces new elections in October, and possible lengthy political instability. The court’s majority decision to annul the poll – the result of which was announced three weeks ago – surprised many observers and embarrassed local, African and western observers who said they had found no major problems with the election. On Wednesday, the court offered a detailed explanation of why it annulled the 8 August election – the first decision of its kind in Africa.
Reading out portions of the judgment, Philomena Mwilu, the deputy chief justice, said the court had upheld the opposition claim that the election result was declared before all results from Kenya’s more than 40,000 polling stations had been received.
The poll had therefore not been “conducted in accordance with the constitution”, leaving “no choice but to nullify it”.
The court’s decision has sharpened the political divide in Kenya, one of Africa’s biggest economies, and risks a constitutional crisis. Odinga, who lost by 1.4m votes, has said he will not take part in the new elections scheduled for 17 October unless some staff at the electoral commission are fired, among other demands.