25 Sep
  • By James Evans

Kenyan election result overturned by supreme court

In what seemed to be a shocking turn of events the supreme court of Kenya has today given the reasons for its decision to annul the results of Kenya’s most recent presidential election. It is the first time in African history that a legal challenge brought by the opposition against a presidential poll result has been successful and has ruled that the results of the recent election, which saw President Kenyatta elected over his rival Odinga by 54% to 44%, were invalid.

By a vote of 4 to 2, the judges said that due to failures of the IEBC (the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission) the vote was not valid. Agreeing with the opposition’s claim, the court ruled that the election results were indeed declared before all results from Kenya’s 40,000 polling stations had been received. This, of course, meant the vote had not been “conducted in accordance with the constitution”, leaving “no choice but to nullify it”.

The court also outlined another group of reasons for its decision. Including the fact that the IEBC had refused to comply with the court order to grant access to its electronic voting system which the opposition claimed had been hacked. The court argued that if there was nothing to hide why would the IEBC not grant them access.

Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta (R) addresses a crowd on September 1, 2017 in a Nairobi susburb, following an announcement by the country's Supreme Court that Kenya's August 8 election, in which Uhuru was declared winner, had been cancelled. Kenya's Supreme Court on September 1 ordered a new presidential election within 60 days, after a shock ruling cancelling the results of last month's poll over widespread irregularities. / AFP PHOTO / TONY KARUMBATONY KARUMBA/AFP/Getty Images

(Kenyatta blasts court after vote annulled calling judges “crooks” but says he does not fear another election.)

Other discrepancies in the election included tallying methods that ignored many of the rules and regulations that should guide the process. Including the use of forms for voting without official barcodes on them and the use of just normal sheets of lined paper with codes handwritten on them. Furthermore, the IEBC conceded that it had not used the electronic transmission system that it was legally required to and in some cases relied on text messages and photographs of manually filled forms instead.

The court was extra critical of these failings due to the fact that this was one of the most expensive elections in the world, 500 million dollars of taxpayer money had been used in an attempt to ensure that this election went perfectly and could not be called into doubt, the very thing that has actually happened.

The annulment of the poll is being seen by many observers as a victory for democracy and the systems in place in Kenya. The supreme court has successfully made a tough decision that upholds its pledge to the rule of law and legality of the democratic process in Kenya.

Kenyan Supreme Court judges arrive for a hearing of a petition challenging the election result filed by the National Super Alliance (NASA) coalition and Human Rights groups at the Supreme Court in Nairobi, Kenya August 28, 2017. REUTERS/Baz Ratner

(Kenyan Supreme Court judges arrive for a hearing of a petition challenging the election result filed by the National Super Alliance coalition and Human Rights groups at the Supreme Court in Nairobi, Kenya August 28, 2017.)

The court has ruled that a new election must be held within 60 days. While the IEBC maintained that the irregularities would not have made a difference on the election outcome, the court has reminded the IEBC that it cannot just pick and choose which parts of the constitution it wants to follow. The court also noted that none of Presidents Kenyatta’s team held any of the blame.

The opposition has been calling for the firing of many IEBC officials and says that it must be a new team in charge of the election that are going to be held in October. Mr Odinga has claimed he will not run in the election if this is not the case.

Tension remain high in Kenya as many people fear a return to the violence that occurred in previous years elections.


“Kenya’s Supreme Court criticises IEBC electoral commission” BBC News, 2017.

“Why did Kenya’s Supreme Court annul the elections?” Al-Jazeera, 2017. 

“Elections Annulment in Kenya: Scary Lessons, Implications For Liberia?” Front Page Africa, 2017.

“Kenya’s high court annuls the presidential election” The Economist, 2017.