New Internationalist

Kenya prepares to swear in fourth president

The Supreme Court of Kenya finally passed its judgement on the country’s presidential election on Saturday 30 March by upholding the winner as Uhuru Kenyatta.

The Chief Justice and President of the Supreme Court, Willy Mutunga dismissed the entire petition filed by Raila Odinga which challenged Kenyatta’s victory in the 4 March poll. He said the decision was unanimously reached by the six judges.

Among the many petition cases was whether the electoral body altered the tallying of votes and eventual vote percentage in favour of any presidential candidate, whether there was a breach of law and the extent to which it affected the outcome, whether the deployment of technology was designed to fail, whether electoral body officials committed election offences and if Kenyatta and his running mate William Ruto were validly elected. The court had been hearing the petition for 14 days.

Kenya's Supreme Court
The Supreme Court upheld Kenyatta as president
Henry Owino

After the Supreme Court declaration, Odinga held a press briefing where he accepted the verdict and wished Kenyatta and his team well. However, he also said that he was disappointed that every mechanism put in place by the Independent and Electoral Boundaries Commission failed and despite the large amount of convincing evidence he felt his lawyers had, all parts of the petition were turned down.

Kenyatta also issued press statement later in the evening congratulating the judges. ‘I also thank my brother Odinga for accepting the verdict and wishing me and my team well. I am looking forward to working with him as we steer this great county to the next level. It is time to build our country and put politics aside,’ Kenyatta said.

The president-elect Uhuru Kenyatta and his designated deputy William Ruto are scheduled to be sworn in on 9 April. According to Kenya’s constitution, swearing in ceremony must take place in broad daylight, between 10am and 2pm presided over by the Chief Justice. The day has already been designated a public holiday.

Congratulatory messages have been streaming into Kenya praising Kenyatta for his victory, including from US President Barack Obama.

The Chinese Embassy in Kenya applauded Kenyatta’s election saying that China and Kenya have maintained a profound traditional friendship and China attaches great importance to the development of the long-term friendly relations and co-operation.

The British Prime Minister David Cameron also congratulated the new president, and Kenya’s people, on a peaceful election. He praised Kenyans for resolving their disputes through the rule of law and the strong institutions of the Supreme Court and constitutional process.

Others congratulations came from French President Francois Hollande and Kofi Annan, on behalf of the African Union Panel of Eminent African Personalities. ‘I congratulate the winners and would like to pay tribute, once again, to the tremendous patience that the Kenyan people have exercised as they waited for the conclusion of this much anticipated process,’ Annan stated.

The next elephant ahead of Kenyatta is the case before him at the International Criminal Court (ICC). Most political analysts say it would be difficult for him to lead Kenyans if he is to appear in person at The Hague, especially considering his deputy is also facing the same the trials.

A few say the two might as well ignore the ICC now that they have state machinery at hand to avoid any arrest and the country should move to East for economic support. Also and most importantly, the Kenyatta Administration can survive without receiving economic support from the West as 95 per cent of Kenya’s recurring budget is funded using domestic resources. Additionally, China, India, Brazil, Russia, and even Japan are more than able to help Kenya if the European Union and the US play hardball to his government.

The big question that Kenyans are asking themselves now is whether, the country would suffer sanctions at the expense of two individuals or to impeach them all together. Only time will tell the way forward.

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About the author

Henry Owino a New Internationalist contributor

Henry Owino is a freelance journalist based in Nairobi, Kenya. He holds a BA in Communications from Daystar University, Kenya. Mr Owino worked with Nation Media Group, Broadcast Division, NTV in Kenya before becoming an independent journalist. He is trained and specializes in investigative journalism, science, health, environment and agriculture. He also writes widely about gender and governance.

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