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Kenya's repeat election: Good for democracy or bad?

13 Septembre 2017

With Kenya thrown into turmoil after the much-disputed Presidential election results were announced, the aggrieved opponents of President Kenyatta turned to the judiciary for succor.It is heart-warming that they received the succor that they sought, unlike their counterparts in Nigeria in nearly four decades of election disputes at the Central level, where the interests of the ruling party and that of an incumbent president are interwoven, and in conflict with the destiny of a nation and its beleaguered people.The Supreme Court, Kenya's highest judicial chamber, did not disappoint the Petitioners, their country, the Black race, and indeed, all lovers of democracy.

As President Kenyatta was in Parliament, the opposition brigade led by Odinga was in Kibra constituency holding a rally.

The Carter Center team, for example, was led by former US Secretary of State John Kerry, who, in the wake of the poll had declared that "Kenya has made a remarkable statement to Africa and the world about its democracy and the character of that democracy".

Kenya has been, since the country's independence in 1963, pretty much in the same situation, plagued by tribal differences over 'who rules.' For the East African state, general elections, rather than being a manifestation of the country's democratic credentials, have been, instead, staging grounds for political protest and violence and sometimes bloodshed on a frightening scale.

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As a result, the Court nullified President Kenyatta's win and called for another Presidential election to be held within 60 days.

He said such threats and attacks represented an affront to the Rule of Law in any democracy. Kenyatta will run against Odinga.

African nations have a reputation of electoral malpractice ranging from voter suppression like in the 2013 Zimbabwean general election to intimidating the opposition like in the 2016 Equatorial Guinean presidential election.

There is, of course, a significance to the Kenya Supreme Court ruling that goes beyond Kenya itself, extending into the wider issue of elections'controversy and the role of elections observers in helping to validate elections processes in other countries. The ruling consolidates the notion that courts can and ought to assert their independence from other arms of government.

Kenya's repeat election: Good for democracy or bad?