Editor’s Note: The August 2022 Kenya presidential election resulted in a dispute that was resolved by the Supreme Court. Contrary to predictions that the dispute may result in violence, the situation ended with a peaceful transfer of power from the administration of President Uhuru Kenyatta to a new administration led by former Deputy President William Ruto. Oscar Katusya tells us some of the reasons why Democracy triumphed despite the circumstances.
The Kenyan Supreme Court unanimously upheld the outcome of the Aug. 9 elections.
Independent Electoral Boundaries Commission (IEBC) Chairman Wafula Chebukati declared Deputy President William Ruto the winner. Four commissioners on the IEBC challenged the credibility of the results. Runner-up, former Prime Minister Raila Odinga had vowed to dispute the results in court.
Following the court ruling, the plaintiff, Odinga, in a tweet, guaranteed to respect the outcome despite disagreeing with the ruling. Commenting on the verdict, Odinga’s running mate, Martha Karua said she would not be silenced. Karua also said she will move the case to the East Africa Court of Justice.
It could be argued that the Aug. 9 Kenya elections were the most transparent ever, even while grievances remain.
A Court Headed by a Woman
The Supreme Court ruling was handed down by the first female Chief Justice, Martha Koome. Koome has a reputation for integrity and fairness. In 2021, the Chief Justice thwarted constitutional reforms supported by President Kenyatta and Odinga.
Following the Supreme Court ruling, there was fake news circulating that two of the supreme court judges had resigned. This was proven to be false. The complainant in the elections, Odinga, termed the ruling in favor of the plaintiff as unfair. On Sept. 16 Odinga voiced his complaints about the bad judicial ruling and vowed to protect the people’s freedom.
Election Technology and Fair Elections
Over the past elections, IEBC has adopted technology in election management, which made the Aug. 9 elections transparent and accountable. The results remain transparent and are verifiable, hence more faith in IEBC. The integrity of the election was due in part to the IEBC’s requirement that all results sheets from polling stations be photographed and uploaded to the IEBC portal. The results are free for all to download and tally the numbers in real-time.
A Free, Independent Judiciary
The judiciary reported 123 election petitions filed, 77 for members of county assembly(MCA’s), 28 for members of parliament(MPs), 12 for governors, 4 for women representatives, and 2 for senators. Even after implementing the 2017 Supreme Court directives, the commission still faces criticism following the Aug. 9 elections.
The IEBC and the Supreme Court play an important role in elections as Kenyan elections have always been high-stake. The integrity of the two bodies has been in question. For instance, the primary complainant Odinga accepted but disagreed with the Supreme Court ruling.
The winner, President William Ruto, commended the IEBC for being professional and raising the integrity bar of public officials while the opposition lamented the institutions.