OPINION: Kenya’s Supreme Court Sets Precedence In Africa

For the first time i was forced to do my first Facebook live cast, when the will of the sovereign people of Kenya was finally and fully respected.

Chief Justice David Kenani Maraga

I can’t remember the last time international media houses beamed a positive Kenyan story across the world apart from the accolades we get from our athletics on the global arena.

The Periodic elections in Africa are a norm in many countries, but then, the quality of these elections leaves a lot to be desired.

This simple democratic exercise can be said to be Africa’s rocket science. It is always a challenge to have elections in Africa.

According to non-partisan research group Afrobarometer, half of Africans trust their national electoral commissions to deliver credible elections.

There is always widespread interference by the political elite especially from the incumbent governments. The last time l wrote an article about elections and voting, i talked about why elections should be made compulsory in my mother land (http://angazanews.com/voting-compulsory-kenya/), but elections in Africa are faced with a number of challenges from of election malpractices, like vote rigging, voter buying, intimidation, arrest of political opponents, registers alteration and manipulation of vote tallying and transmission as seen in Kenya in 2013 and 2017.

In countries where the voting population still suffers from, diseases, poverty, illiteracy and power is still in the hands of a few or two major communities as for the Kenyan case, free and fair elections remains a myth.

Much has not been reported on dismissal of an election outcome in Africa or even the world at large with exceptions in Ukraine under Viktor in 2004, Maldivia and recently Austria in May 2017.

In Ukraine 2004, the presidential election was marred by massive corruption, voter intimidation and direct electoral fraud in favor of Russian backed Yushchenko.

This resulted into the run-off between leading candidates Viktor Yushchenko and Viktor Yanukovych and as for, Austria elections were overturned by the judiciary after the country’s constitutional court annulled the result of the presidential election.

The court’s president, declared a run-off vote after an investigation revealed irregularities in the count of the vote in several constituencies.

What is good to note is that, even the most democratic country in the world USA, when they had a standstill in 2004 elections George Bush vs Al gore the elections were never dismissed.

Being a Kenyan and away from home the Supreme Court’s verdict a few days ago will go a long way to set precedence in the world and in Africa especially for nations that adopted the use of technology in their voting systems.

I highly applaud Raila Odinga for having sought redress of the judicial system. He didn’t go for electoral violence as witnessed in 2007, In Kenya, Zimbabwe and Côte d’Ivoire in recent times this has collectively led to deaths and hundreds of thousands internally displaced.

But by going to court Raila Odinga twice put the judiciary on a judicial system test. This means that Kenya’s Judicial system in 2017 scored highly after the 2013 election petition ruling which gave a lee way for Uhuruto to lead however, days after posting the whole judgement it didn’t go down well with most Kenyans.

I would like to agree with Chief Justice David Maraga’s ruling, He said that election is a process, and not a one-off event. Which comprises of pre-voting, voting, and post-voting.

In the pre-voting phase, frameworks are defined to ascertain voter and candidates’ eligibility. During this phase that voter civic education, registration, party nominations and electoral campaigns also take place.

Then comes the Voting phase which includes the casting of votes, vote counting and the verification of results.

It is this phase that Justice Maraga and his colleagues used to dismiss the presidential elections in Kenya.

While both the Independent Electoral & Boundaries Commission (IEBC) and President Uhuru and international observers, which included former South African President Thabo Mbeki and former USA foreign Secretary John Kerry dwelled on the pre- voting and partially the voting phase proclaimed the elections were free and fair, they have had to swallow a bitter pill after the nullification of the presidential vote.

In 1998, The president of the International Commission of Jurists in the Hong Kong conference, Australian judge Michael Kirby presented a paper titled “Independence of the Judiciary – Basic Principles, New Challenges” and had this to say: “A judge without independence is a charade wrapped in a farce inside oppression.”

-Okedi Is A Human Rights and Rule of Law Activist: ekesaokedi@gmail.com

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