And The Cookie Crumbles! Supreme Court Nullifies Presidential Election

Chief Justice of The Republic of  Kenya. David Kenani Maraga. PHOTO|COURTESY
Just when we thought it was all done and dusted, a SHOCKER came. In a majority ruling of 4 against 2, the Supreme Court of Kenya has today nullified the presidential election of Kenya. This means that President Uhuru Kenyatta was not validly elected in the just concluded elections.

In a historic judgment and the very first in Africa, the Supreme Court of Kenya invalidated the re-election of a sitting president, ordering a new vote to be held within 60 days after finding out that the electoral body had presided over irregular elections.

The election on Aug. 8 was conducted peacefully and was largely praised by international observers. But David Maraga, the court’s chief justice, declared the result “invalid, null and void” after siding with the opposition, which had argued that the vote had been electronically manipulated to assure a victory for President Uhuru Kenyatta. They then directed IEBC to conduct fresh elections in 60 days.

The decision surprised even Mr. Odinga and his supporters, who immediately went to the streets to celebrate. The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission ICT manager was killed about a week before the election, and although the casting of ballots went smoothly, electronic transmission was flawed, leading the opposition to assert that as many as seven million votes had been stolen.

Opposition leader Raila Odinga greeting his supporters after the ruling. PHOTO|AP

Immediately after the opposition went to the court, several scenarios were possible and the nullification of the election was one of them.
In the reading of the ruling by the chief justice, the two dissenting judges, Lady Justice Njoki Ndung'u and Justice Jackton Ojwang gave their reasons for giving a contrary opinion.

Walter Mebane, who is a professor of statistics and political science at the University of Michigan and studies elections worldwide, volunteered to run the voting results through a computer model. The model he developed is to detect electoral fraud. Based on statistics only, and without knowledge of the intricacies of Kenyan politics, he and his team found patterns that showed widespread manipulation.

“It was unlike any data set I had ever seen,” he said. “Every single indicator came up signaling anomalies. It’s a huge red flag that something weird is going on.”

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