Kenyan Parliament amends electoral law as re-run crisis deepens

Kenyan Parliament amends electoral law as re-run crisis deepens
An opposition supporter holding a poster in Nairobi Kenya, Monday, Oct. 9, 2017, which reads "Uhuru Bees are coming" as thousands of supporters of Kenya's main opposition party, National Super Alliance (NASA) returned to the streets of Nairobi and other major towns Monday to protest against the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) ahead of Oct. 26 repeat presidential polls. Courtesy Photo/AP Photo/Sayyid Abdul Azim.

The Parliament in Kenya on Wednesday 11th, October 2017 passed an amendment to the country’s election laws allowing one of the contenders in a repeat of a presidential election to be declared a winner in case the other candidate withdrew from the rerun.

The Elections Law (Amendment Bill) as adopted by the Parliament also allows the manual transmission of election results. The transmission of the election results was one of the contentious issues leading to the Supreme Court annulment of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s August 8 victory. The Act awaits the signing of the President to become law.

The House, presided over by Deputy Speaker Moses Cheboi, passed the amendment barely a day after Raila Odinga, the National Super Alliance (NASA) coalition presidential candidate announced that he and his running mate were withdrawing from a repeat of the presidential elections.

Odinga said he was not contesting in the October 26 re-run because he did not expect the process to be fair and transparent, a decision that had plunged Kenya into uncharted waters. The country was yet to recover from the effect of the Supreme Court ruling nullifying Uhuru Kenyatta’s victory and order for a rerun.

Analysts said Raila Odinga’s last-minute withdrawal from the race was a calculated move to force the country’s electoral body to organize fresh presidential elections. Odinga and his NASA coalition based the decision on the fact that Uhuru Kenyatta would not contest alone in the rerun.

He reportedly based his argument on the 2013 Supreme Court decision that held that if one candidate withdraws from a fresh election triggered by an invalidated petition, fresh elections had to be held with other candidates.

Lawyers in Uganda and Kenya say Odinga’s withdrawal from the rerun had caused constitutional uncertainty because the country’s constitution is silent about what happens once a candidate in the rerun withdraws from the race. It is not yet clear whether the amendment adopted by mainly Kenyatta’s legislators in Parliament ensure the law once signed will be retrospective.

They say Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga and their running mates were from the Supreme Court Ruling not required to seek fresh nomination for the polls set for October 26. The Supreme Court had ordered for a rerun between Raila Odinga and Uhuru Kenyatta.

President Kenyatta had insisted that re-run would take place as he questioned his rival’s motive of withdrawing from an election after causing Kenyans to spend 12 billion Kenya Shillings for the rerun.

Earlier in the day, a High Court judge ruled that the country’s electoral body should have included all other presidential candidates in the re-run, not just the two front-runners. Dr Ekuru Aukot, one of the eight candidates in the August 8 elections, had petitioned court seeking to be included in the October 26 re-run.