There were moments of celebration and protest from opposition in Kenya on Monday as the Supreme Court unanimously upheld the re-election of President Uhuru Kenyatta in last month’s repeat presidential vote, paving the way for him to be sworn in next week.
While delivering his verdict, Chief Justice David Maraga threw out the cases by three petitioners that sought to invalidate the results of the Oct. 26 election rerun, saying their arguments were without merit.
The unanimous decision is the latest — and, it seems, final — stage of Kenya’s unexpectedly prolonged presidential election cycle, which erupted this weekend into clashes between “protesting” opposition supporters and the police that were broadcast on live television.
Kenya has been through two presidential elections this year, both of which have come before the Supreme Court for review. The court nullified Mr. Kenyatta’s Aug. 8 win, citing irregularities. On Tuesday, it dismissed two petitions against his Oct. 26 victory, saying they lacked merit.
The country’s apex court had stunned Kenya and much of the continent on September 1, after it invalidated Kenyatta’s win on the grounds of irregularities, forcing the election to be re-held.
Kenyatta’s main rival, Raila Odinga, however, pulled out of the rerun at the last minute saying the new elections would be flawed as well since the commission overseeing the contest had not been reformed.
The election went ahead and Kenyatta won by a landslide, though voting did not take place in a number of opposition districts.
In Odinga latest statement, he dismissed the court decision, saying it was made under coercion and insisted that the government and the election were still illegitimate.
“It was a decision taken under duress. We do not condemn the court, we sympathize with it,” said the statement.
In the wake of the verdict, celebrations immediately broke out outside the court where supporters of Kenyatta’s Jubilee Party had gathered, decked out in the party colors and waving Kenyan flags.
There were celebrations in other party strongholds around the city, as well.
The months between the elections and the court decisions have seen repeated demonstrations by Odinga’s supporters and following the court decision, there were outbursts in opposition strongholds like the city of Kisumu in the west.
The roughly even division between Kenyatta and Odinga supporters is based largely on ethnic lines, between the Kenyatta’s Kikuyu tribe and Odinga’s Luo, raising the fears of ethnic clashes.