Anxiety as Kenyans wait for the Supreme Court verdict
Kenyans anxiously await a Supreme Court ruling on Monday for the petitions challenging the outcome of the August presidential election, with weeks of political uncertainty looming if the poll is annulled.
The majority of Kenyans were on Monday holed up in their houses and avoided going to the Central Business District (CBD) which remained a ghost town.
Although voting day passed off peacefully, the results sparked angry protests in some areas, there are fears a drawn-out dispute may deepen widespread economic malaise and lead to violence in a country with a history of post-poll unrest.
The court will examine whether any irregularities were substantial enough to nullify the election, as was the case with the August 2017 presidential poll, which the then opposition leader Raila Odinga also challenged.
Judges have spent the last two weeks rifling through boxes of evidence to figure out if the technology used by the election commission met the “standards of integrity, verifiability, security and transparency”.
After 2017’s annulment, the Independent and Electoral Boundaries Commission was under heavy pressure to deliver a clean poll.
Since 2002, no presidential poll outcome in Kenya has gone uncontested, with many fearing that a prolonged electoral process and the resulting uncertainty will only worsen the country’s cost of living crisis.
The 2017 poll saw dozens of protesters killed at the hands of police. Kenya’s worst electoral violence occurred after the 2007 vote when more than 1,100 people died in politically motivated clashes involving rival tribes.
If the court upholds the results, Ruto will become Kenya’s fifth president since independence from Britain in 1963, taking the reins of a country battling inflation, high unemployment and a crippling drought.
Today’s pronouncement by the seven-judge bench of the Supreme Court will decide the fates of president-elect William Ruto and his main challenger, Mr Odinga, as it will have a bearing on their political future.
Both have promised to respect the apex court’s decision.
At the same time, police have advised Kenyans to follow proceedings from home when the Supreme Court sits to pass its verdict on the presidential petition.
The court said it will deliver judgment from noon.
In a statement, acting Inspector General of Police Noor Gabow advised against gathering outside court premises at Milimani Law Courts.
“We wish to advise the general public to avoid gathering at the Supreme Court during the ruling, or congregating in public gatherings but follow the proceedings from the comfort of their homes,” Gabow said.
If anything, the acting IG said access to the court precincts will be limited to the public and all roads leading to the Supreme Court will be closed.