DISPATCH FROM KENYA: Supreme Court ruling on Kenyan presidential election sparks protests and violence

3 years ago
We support the petition!

We support the petition! (Qaabata Boru photo)

NAIROBI – The Supreme Court on Saturday unanimously upheld the results of the March 4 election, dismissing a petition by rival presidential candidate Raila Odinga and clearing the way for Uhuru Kenyatta to become the fourth president of Kenya.

The decision came after two weeks of deliberation and was announced by Chief Justice Willy Mutunga who said the election was free, fair and credible.

Mr. Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy president elect, William Ruto, will be sworn in at Kasarani Stadium on April 9. Both of the leaders have been charged with crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court (ICC).


A Youth leader cries out, "justice delayed, justice denied ... " (Qaabata Boru Photo)
A Youth leader cries out, “justice delayed, justice denied … ” (Qaabata Boru Photo)


The Supreme Court’s confirmation of the election was reached in spite of evidence of voting irregularities and rigging in some counties. However, the six-judge bench decided that problems were not widespread enough to alter the outcome of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission’s (IEBC) March 9 declaration.

The final day was full of confusion and anxiety. Immediately after the court’s decision, angry supporters of Prime Minister Raila Odinga took to the streets and some hurled stones. The city center was deserted with only police patrolling it while protesters called out “justice denied” around the slums where police fired tear gas to control the crowds. A few shops had their windows smashed with stones.

Two people were reportedly killed during a confrontation with police while at least five others were hospitalized in a western part of the country.


PM Odinga supporters rallying in front of the Supreme Court. (Qaabata Boru Photo)
PM Odinga supporters rallying in front of the Supreme Court. (Qaabata Boru Photo)


Kenyatta is accused of orchestrating ethnic violence after the December 2007 election that resulted in the deaths of at least 1,300 people. However, he has denied the charges and has been trying to clear his name.

The defeated Mr. Odinga stated in a press briefing that his organization, CORD (the Coalition of Reform and Democracy), has no regrets over taking the presidential petition to the Supreme Court. Although the CORD team was not satisfied with the ruling, they have accepted the decision.

“The court has spoken, we shall abide their by ruling and we have no regrets.” Mr. Odinga also sent a message of good will to Uhuru and his team.

Citizens expressed a wide-range of opinions. “We’re sick and tired. We’ll not be intimidated any more 50 years down the line,” a hungry old woman said while rallying in front of the Supreme Court on Saturday.


Police and angry petition supports awaiting the Supreme Court's decision (Qaabata Boru photo)
Police and angry petition supports awaiting the Supreme Court’s decision (Qaabata Boru photo)


“The ruling is against the majority, it’s a state against its own people,” Onyango, a protesting petition supporter, said on Saturday.

Mr. Kenyatta said the election was peacefully and fairly conducted and referred to it as “triumph of democracy” in his speech.

It is not currently clear if the tension in some counties will spread across the country.

RYOT NOTE: Another amazing dispatch directly from Kenya! We love hearing these first-hand accounts of democracy in action in Africa, and it’s all made possible by the Tiziano Project. They provide training and resources for journalists in war zones and conflict areas, so they can report stories that nobody else is. Check them out, consider donating and share this story!

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