William Ruto’s election victory upheld by Kenya’s supreme court
Monday - 05/09/2022 10:03
Losing candidate had lodged several petitions to have result overturned
Kenya’s supreme court has unanimously upheld the election of William Ruto as president, rejecting several petitions lodged by the losing candidate to have the result overturned.
The seven-member court found that losing candidate Raila Odinga’s alliance failed to prove claims that the polls had been rigged.
Chief Justice Martha Koome described some of the evidence presented to the court as variously “hot air”, “sensational”, “a wild-goose chase” and “not credible”.
Allegations of fraud had to be proved beyond reasonable doubt, she said, and evidence by the petitioners had been inconclusive.
The ruling, which cannot be appealed, offered further evidence of the court’s independence. Although Ruto, 55, was the incumbent vice-president, the government of outgoing president Uhuru Kenyatta had thrown its weight behind Odinga.
Kenya has a history of disputed and sometimes deadly elections, but this time the streets remained relatively calm. In 2017, the supreme court made history in Kenya, and in Africa, by nullifying the result of the election after declaring irregularities.
Last month, the chair of the electoral commission, Wafula Chebukati, said Ruto won 50.5 per cent of the vote, while former prime minister Odinga secured 48.8 per cent. But four out of seven electoral commissioners disowned the results, throwing Ruto’s victory into doubt.
In a petition filed last month, Odinga and his running mate, former magistrate Martha Karua, asked the Supreme Court to order a “nullification of the declaration of results”. Ruto had been declared the winner, the petition said, because of “irregularities and improprieties” that “were so substantial and significant and that they affected the result”.
Koome said that the court had found few discrepancies between the votes as declared at the polling stations and those collated at national levels, a central claim of Odinga’s petition. Nor had there been any evidence of voter suppression, she said, despite the unusually low turnout.
This was the fifth time Odinga, 77, has run for president and the third time he had challenged results in court. He had previously appealed to the supreme court after losing a disputed poll in 2013 when his nemesis-turned-ally, Kenyatta, took office. But that was rejected.
In 2017, after the court nullified the result of the presidential election contested by Kenyatta and Odinga, the latter boycotted the rerun. Ruto will be sworn in next week. Karua said: “The court has spoken. I respect but disagree.”