President-Elect Uhuru Kenyatta
In a sign that Kenya is moving towards political maturity, challenger Raila Odinga says he will respect the Supreme court’s ruling upholding Uhuru Kenyatta’s victory in the March 4 presidential election.
Prior to the ruling he had said he would respect the outcome and called on his supporters to remain calm and respect the ruling.
Kenyatta called the ruling a “triumph of democracy.” He and Kenya’s Deputy President-Elect William Ruto still face the ICC trial in connection to their role in the violence following the 2007 election.
Odinga had petitioned the court, challenging Kenyatta’s victory. He claimed fraudulent vote counts, including cases where votes awarded to Kenyatta exceeded the numbers who voted in the precinct, allowed the victor to secure the more than 50% margin required to avoid a runoff.
Kenyatta was awarded 50.07% of the vote to Odinga’s 43.28%; he cleared the margin by about 8,000 votes.
The Kenya Supreme Court had earlier acknowledged vote tally irregularities. But in a decision announced by Chief Justice Willy Mutunga, the court has rejected Odinga’s petition for new elections unanimously.
“It is the decision of the court that the said elections were indeed conducted in compliance with the constitution and the law,” Mutunga has said.
“At this historical moment in our country, the Supreme Court has discharged its constitutional duty in conformity with the solemn oath each one of us took,” he added.
“It is now for the Kenyan people, their leaders, civil society, the private sector and the media to discharge theirs, to ensure that the unity, peace, sovereignty and prosperity of the nation is preserved. God bless Kenya.”
It’s not clear how the court arrived at the decision — whether it was based on analyses that showed that the irregularities were not of the magnitude to have provided Kenyatta with the margin to scale the 50% threshold.
It’s also clear by Mutunga’s comments that the justices were aware that any decision they made could have impact on Kenya’s “unity, peace, sovereignty and prosperity.”
As more information emerges, Kenyans and the rest of the world may find out whether, ultimately, the desire to maintain stability trumped all other considerations, including the validity of some of the vote counts. Kenyans don’t want a repeat of the type of violence that wrecked the country after the 2007 vote.
The most encouraging sign that Kenyans are ready to move forward come from Odinga himself. “Although we may not agree with some of [the court’s] findings,” Odinga has said, “our belief in constitutionalism remains supreme.”
Even with his disappointment these words are powerful and his supporters must respect them. He has said he wished wished president-elect Kenyatta and his team well.
Kenyans’ desire for reconciliation may set a great example for East Africa and for all of Afri