NAIROBI, Kenya (HargeisaPress) —Kenya’s Supreme Court has declared President Uhuru Kenyatta’s election win invalid due to “irregularities committed by the election board” and ordered a new vote.
The decision to cancel the vote result, the first of its kind in Kenya’s history, sets up a new race for the presidency between Mr Kenyatta and veteran opposition leader, Raila Odinga.
Overturning Mr Kenyatta’s re-election last month, a panel of judges ordered a re-run of the vote within 60 days.
The six-judge bench ruled 4-2 in favor of the petition filed by Mr Odinga, who had claimed that the electronic voting results were hacked into and manipulated in favor of Mr Kenyatta. The president had won a second term with 54 percent of the vote.
“The declaration (of Kenyatta’s win) is invalid, null and void,” said Judge David Maranga, announcing the verdict backed by four out of the six judges.
“The first respondent (the election board) failed neglected or refused to conduct the presidential election in a manner consistent with the dictates of the constitution.”
Many voters in the west of Kenya, Mr Odinga’s stronghold, and along the coast, where there is also traditionally large support for the opposition, feel neglected by the central government and shut out of power.
Security was tight around the courthouse with armed police and barricaded streets.
Outside court, Mr Odinga hailed the court decision as “historic” and “precedent-setting”.
“This is a historic day for the people of Kenya and by extension for the people of the continent of Africa,” he said, adding it was the first time a presidential result had been overturned in Africa.
“We are ready for elections but we don’t have confidence in the electoral commission”, he added. “Those commissioners must go.”
Kenya’s shilling weakened 0.44 percent against the dollar after the ruling.
Less than an hour after the court’s ruling, commercial banks quoted the shilling at 103.20/40 per dollar, compared to 102.75/95 at Thursday’s close.
Lawyers for Mr Kenyatta called the ruling a “very political decision”, but said they will “live with the consequences”.
Lead counsel Ahmednassir Abdulahi spoke to the court after ruling.
Mr Odinga has contested the last three elections and lost each time. Each time, he has claimed the votes were marred by rigging. In 2013, the Supreme Court dismissed his petition.
This time, his team focused on proving that the process for tallying and transmitting results was flawed, rather than proving how much of the vote was rigged.
East Africa’s biggest economy has a history of disputed elections. A row over the 2007 poll, which Odinga challenged after being declared loser, was followed by weeks of ethnic bloodshed in which more than 1,200 were killed.