The Supreme Court in Kenya on Friday cancelled the result of the country’s presidential election, due to irregularities committed by the election board, even as it ordered a new vote in 60 days.
The apex court’s decision to cancel the result – the first of its kind in Kenya’s history – sets up a new race for the presidency between Uhuru Kenyatta and veteran opposition leader Raila Odinga.
“The declaration (of Kenyatta’s win) is invalid, null and void,” said Judge David Maranga, announcing the verdict backed by four out of the six judges and drawing cheers outside the court from Odinga supporters.
“The first respondent (the election board) failed, neglected or refused to conduct the presidential election in a manner consistent with the dictates of the constitution,” the judge said.
Kenya is said to have a history of disputed elections. A row over the 2017 poll, which Odinga challenged after being declared loser, was followed by weeks of ethnic bloodshed in which more than 1,200 were killed.
Meanwhile, international observers had said they saw no sign of manipulation of voting and tallying at polling stations. Several observers said the opposition did not conduct a parallel tally and had not challenged results with complete data of their own.
Scores of voters in the west of Kenya, Odinga’s stronghold, and along the coast, where there is traditionally large support for the opposition, feel neglected by the central government and shut out of power.
“This indeed is a very historic day for the people of Kenya,” Odinga said after the decision. “For the first time in history of African democratization a ruling has been made by a court nullifying irregular elections for the president.”