Ruto to be sworn in after Kenya’s Supreme Court rejects Odinga challenge

William Ruto will be sworn in as Kenyan president next week after the Supreme Court rejected Raila Odinga’s accusations of electoral fraud.



Kenya’s Supreme Court has rejected Raila Odinga’s legal challenge to his presidential election defeat in a decision which will see William Ruto sworn in as president next week.

The Supreme Court found that the petitioners did not provide a watertight case for the nullification of results on the basis that Ruto did not meet the 50%-plus-one constitutional threshold for an outright win.

Chief justice Martha Koome said not a single document had been produced by Odinga’s team that there was ballot stuffing, and said that the postponement of elections in some areas did not result in voter suppression to the detriment of Odinga.

The chief justice said there was no evidence that the results system was tampered with or that the technology failed. She dismissed some of the complaints as “hot air, red herrings and forgeries”.

“Good news for investors”

Odinga tweeted that he respected the opinion of the court, but “vehemently disagreed” with their decision today.

In a statement attached to the tweet, he said that “we find it incredible that the judges found against us on all nine (9) grounds” and vowed to “redouble our efforts to transform this country into a prosperous democracy”.

“We will be communicating in the near future on our plans to continue our struggle for transparency, accountability and democracy,” he concluded.

However, Ben Hunter, Africa Analyst at risk intelligence company Verisk Maplecroft, predicted that any protests by Odinga’s followers in response to this result would not translate into prolonged unrest, despite international concerns of widespread violence.

“The unanimity of the legal ruling and the ongoing economic crisis will dampen the appetite for conflict,” he told African Business.  

“The confirmation of Ruto’s victory is good news for investors, as the near-term risk of protests contained in Odinga’s base in Nyanza Province is preferable to an election re-run and six more weeks of political uncertainty. Kenyan Eurobonds will be boosted by the political stability guaranteed by the country’s strong legal institutions.”

No reason to nullify election, says court

In the aftermath of the declaration of Ruto’s victory by the country’s Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), Odinga announced that he would challenge a result that he considered “null and void” and a “travesty”.

Odinga was emboldened to challenge the results by the dissenting view of four of the seven members of the commission, who disowned the results, arguing that they were erroneously aggregated and that 142,000 votes had not properly been accounted for. The four dissenting commissioners were overruled at the time by electoral commission chairman Wafula Chebukati.

While the Supreme Court confirmed that the power to verify and tally presidential election results vests in the commission rather than the chairperson, the chief justice said that the four commissioners did not produce any document showing the result was compromised and did not explain why they took part in a verification process which they later claimed was “opaque”.

“Are we to nullify the outcome of an election on the basis of a last-minute boardroom rupture whose details remain scanty?” said Koome.

Odinga’s democratic credentials have been sullied by the legal weakness of his petition and this is a “stinging blow” to his political standing” says Hunter.

Now the serious work begins for Ruto

The judgment brings to an end a democratic process in which over 22m registered voters took part, around 56.17% of Kenya’s 54m population.

But having overcome this obstacle, Ruto now faces the greater challenge of putting his electoral promises into practice.

“A razor thin parliamentary majority and strong economic headwinds will constrain Ruto’s lofty promises to invest in opportunities for Kenya’s urban working class,” says Hunter.

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