Kenya’s election annulment raises concerns on potential civil conflicts

Posted on September 15, 2017

On August 8th, Kenyans had the opportunity to vote for their next President, and as a result, Uhuru Kenyatta was elected. Nevertheless, the opposition’s candidate, Raila Odinga, along with his party, the National Super Alliance, filed a claim against the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, the entity in charge of conducting the polls, alleging that the process was rigged and full of inconsistencies.


Along with those suspicions, many eyebrows were raised after Chris Msando, the officer in charge of overseeing the electronic voting system was found tortured and murdered days before the election. Weird, right?


It turns out that the claim was, unprecedently, favored and the head of the Supreme Court, Chief Justice David Maraga stated that the elections were not “conducted in accordance with the constitution” and therefore they were declared “invalid, null, and void”.


This decision shocked many across the world as it is the first time an opposition’s claim filed against the election of an acting President of an African country has actually gained favor. Apparently, democracy’s winds are blowing in the right direction for the continent.


Both presidential candidates stated their acceptance of the court’s ruling, and Kenyatta will remain as acting President until the next elections take place.


Nevertheless, international parties have said that their concerns over potential conflicts that could submerge the country into civil turmoil, remembering the regrettable events that unfolded in 2007, when the opposition, led by Odinga, challenged the election’s results back then, which caused a civil dispute that ended with more than 1,200 people killed and more than half a million displaced by ethnic conflicts.


A tense peace reigns in the streets of Nairobi, as the main officers of different political factions have backed the court’s decision in an unexpected turn of events.


The question remains, is the country mature enough to navigate this kind of democratic rulings? Time will say.


Kenyans are once again preparing their votes to decide who will be the next President. The Commission’s participations and actual existence are somehow threatened, as many questions need to be answered, and those that have taken part in unlawful activities have to be brought to justice.


International observers that took part in last month’s polls were addressed by Odinga, who said that they were more interested in “stability” rather than transparency. The head of the E.U.’s Observer Mission declared, in light of the ruling, that this was “a historic day for Kenya and we have always said that people who feel aggrieved should seek the path of the courts”.


Kenya, currently suffering a season of drought and economic issues such as increasing inflation and unemployment, desperately needs to stabilize its political situation in order to move forward on these matters. Elections will be organized within the next 60 days, and another opportunity for democracy will take place. Hopes up!


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