Petitions filed in Kenya against Kenyatta win in repeat poll

November 7, 2017
Residents look out from their balconies as flames from a burning barricade rise up during clashes between opposition protesters and police after the election result was announced, in the Mathare slum of Nairobi, Kenya, on Monday, Oct. 30, 2017. Clashes erupted after Kenya's election commission said President Uhuru Kenyatta had won the election that was boycotted by the main opposition group. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Two petitions were filed Monday in Kenya’s Supreme Court challenging President Uhuru Kenyatta’s re-election last month in a repeat vote that the main opposition group boycotted.

Kura Yangu Sauti Yangu, Swahili for My Vote My Voice, a coalition of 12 rights groups and civil activists filed its petition before the midnight deadline for challenging the Oct. 26 election. Politician Harun Mwau filed the other petition earlier in the day.

The election was scheduled after Kenyatta’s first re-election victory in an August ballot was nullified by the Supreme Court. Kenya’s main opposition leader, Raila Odinga, had petitioned the court arguing that election was fraudulent. The court ruled the electoral commission committed irregularities and illegalities in the vote and ordered the new election, which Odinga boycotted after the commission wasn’t restructured.

The coalition of rights groups filed its petition despite an order issued Monday by the government department that oversees non-governmental organizations claiming the coalition was not registered and should cease all activities.

Activists said the order was part of the Kenyatta administration’s attempt to suppress dissenting voices by stopping a court challenge.

“We are demonstrating that the fresh election held on Oct. 26 was an illegal election,” said Harun Ndubi, a lawyer for Kura Yangu Sauti Yangu.

He said the coalition also would show that electoral officials were incompetent and produced an election that did “not pass legal muster.”

“We are also seeking to demonstrate they committed illegalities and irregularities that would serve to invalidate it as well and that the commission was so partial it wasn’t able to run an election,” Ndubi said.

Without any real challenge in the election, Kenyatta won with 98 percent of the votes.

Civil rights activists and Odinga have disputed the electoral commission’s official statistics showing a turnout of 38 percent, saying the commission embellished its figures. They contend turnout was about 20 percent.

Some activists fear the petitions are coming amid an effort to intimidate the Supreme Court, citing the Oct. 24 shooting of the police driver for one of the justices. They note the court failed to muster a quorum the next day to consider a petition that sought to postpone the Oct. 26 vote.

The nullification of Kenya’s August election was the first time a court in Africa had overturned a presidential ballot. At least 70 people have died in political unrest since then, the majority of them opposition demonstrators shot by police during protests.

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