Lawyers Differ on Credibility of Ruto’s Victory
On Monday, constitutional lawyers were sharply divided over whether the declared presidential election results were legally processed.
The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission was deeply divided after four commissioners rejected the final presidential results, which declared outgoing Deputy President William Ruto the winner.
Makau Mutua, Raila Odinga’s spokesperson and constitutional lawyer, claimed the results were null and void.
Mutua stated that because four commissioners had disowned the results, the commission lacked the quorum to process the final stages of the presidential election.
“Any results IEBC Kenya Chair WChebukati announces are invalid because he had no quorum of commissioners to hold a plenary and make such a weighty decision. The ongoing process at Bomas is now illegal,” Mutua said.
This was also the position taken by lawyer Donald Kipkorir, who stated that decisions are made by majority vote under the IEBC Act.
“Minority decision is void,”he said.
According to constitutional lawyer Ahmednasir Abdullahi, the commissioners have no role in a presidential election.
“A presidential election has a single returning officer…the chairman … other commissioners have no role in a presidential election,” Abdullahi said.
Juliana Cherera, vice chairperson of the IEBC, led the four commissioners who disavowed the results.
Francis Wanderi, Justus Nyang’aya, and Irene Masit are the other commissioners.
The commission’s split appeared to cast doubt on the presidential election results, as commissioners claimed there was a lot that happened and that they would issue a detailed statement later.
Those who are unhappy with the results of presidential elections have seven days from the day the results are announced to file a petition with the Supreme Court.
There are indications that the presidential election results will be challenged and will end up in a legal showdown similar to the 2017 battle.
Mutahi Ngunyi, a political scientist who supported Raila’s bid, said in a tweet, “The Supreme Court will be the next stop, followed by nullification. Braise (sic) yourself for the next 21 days. It isn’t over until it is “Ngunyi took to Twitter.
On Monday, there was a standoff at Kenya’s Bomas, the venue for the announcement of the presidential results, when Raila’s chief agents refused to give the results their approval.
Raila’s chief agent, Saitabao Kanchory, declared the results untrustworthy, despite IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati’s assurance to Kenyans that he would “run a verifiable election.”
“The IEBC chairman promised to run a verifiable election which he has not…A result that is not verifiable is not a result,” he said.
Kanchory stated that they had not seen the Form 34C, the presidential declaration form that tallies constituency results, and that he would not sign the final results until he had tallied and confirmed them on his own.
“We could not even ask our presidential candidate to be here even before we could verify the results which we have not,” he said.
Raila’s team claimed, without providing evidence, that they had information that the IEBC system had been compromised and hacked.
“Some of the IEBC officials actually committed electoral offences and some of them ought to have been arrested, if they were not arrested,” he said.
Chief Justice Martha Koome published a timeline for a presidential petition on Sunday, ahead of the results being announced on Monday, indicating preparations for a possible petition.
If the aggrieved parties choose to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court, it will be the third consecutive presidential petition filed since the 2010 constitution’s adoption.
The 2013 one was overturned, and President Uhuru Kenyatta’s victory was confirmed.
The Supreme Court overturned the President’s victory over massive illegalities and irregularities in 2017.
The disgruntled parties will have seven days to file their petition with the Supreme Court, according to Koome’s guidelines.
The Supreme Court is required by the Constitution to hear and rule on presidential election disputes.
“This is a non-negotiable time frame,” Koome said in a press statement
According to the timelines, a petitioner has 24 hours from the time he or she files his or her petition to serve the respondent with suit papers.
The respondent will have four days after being served with the petition to respond to the issues raised and serve the petitioner with his replying affidavit.
The petitioner will then have 24 hours to file and serve his rejoinder to the petition, followed by another 24 hours for both the petitioner and respondent to file and serve their introductory applications to the presidential petition.
The court will rule on the petition within 14 days of its filing, in accordance with a constitutional requirement intended to ensure such petitions are resolved in a timely manner.
The Supreme Court was established by Article 163 of the Constitution and is the apex of the Judiciary in Kenya, tasked with final arbitration of disputes.
It also has sole jurisdiction over any presidential election-related disputes.
Former Chief Justice David Maraga declared the August 8, 2017 presidential election invalid and ordered the IEBC to hold a new election within 60 days while adhering to its orders.
Maraga declared the elections “invalid, null and void” because they were not “conducted in accordance with the constitution.”
President Kenyatta was declared the winner by the IEBC by a margin of 1.4 million votes.
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President Kenyatta’s opponent, Nasa presidential candidate Raila Odinga, called the commission “rotten” and demanded resignations and prosecutions.
President Kenyatta stated that he would respect the court’s decision while calling the judges “crooks.”